If you’re looking for high stakes, medieval thrills, and a sword-wielding heroine, I’ve got just the thing for you. Penguin Books just sent me the first and second volumes by authoress Diane Magras and I cannot get enough of it.
The Story: In book 1, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, we meet Drest. The only daughter of the warrior Grimbol, Drest knows she isn’t the toughest out of her father’s children. With several older brothers ahead of her, she’s the tiniest of the lot, no matter how hard she trains. One night though, a mysterious ship arrives filled with knights prepared to take Grimbol and his men. Though she is hidden safely away by her family, Drest must suffer to watch her own family be taken away, where she knows that they will not receive a kind fate. In order to save them, Drest will have to join forces with a wounded knight who despises her father and his band. She may be small, but Drest has more power than anyone else has bartered for. Armed with the wise voices of her family, the weapon she’s won, her wits, and the code of virtues her family so ardently believes in, Drest must fight her way to Faintree Castle – before it’s too late.
The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter picks up shortly after the cliffhanger ending of its predecessor. With her father and brothers safely rescued from the clutches of those at Faintree, Drest and her new friends are on the run. The traitorous turn of recent events has led her to be extra cautious as they flee from the forces that would capture them and end their lives once and for all. When Drest learns from her wounded friend Emerick that there is an ally close at hand, she is determined to go and meet this Lady de Moys, even if it means putting her own life in danger. In order to win back the freedom of her and her people, Drest will have to put her life on the line once again. She may be young, but her legend is just beginning.
My Thoughts: First off, I cannot give enough thanks to Penguin Books for sending me this one. It was incredibly generous of them; I will definitely be rereading these over and over. I wasn’t entirely certain what to expect from this read. I’ve read a lot of medieval fantasy before, but it’s often harder to find straight medieval historical fiction that I enjoy. This could be due to the fact that a lot of these stories end up being “journey” stories, which, admittedly, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter was. That having been said, I really enjoyed this book! The pace never lagged and I found myself eagerly awaiting the climax. The plot twists were pretty good, if a bit predictable for an experienced or older reader. Like the first, The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter is a wild ride, with lots of thrills. If I’m being honest, I enjoyed this book only slightly less because it had fewer mystery points. We knew who the bad guys were, who the good guys were, etc. Nevertheless, I’ve found myself to be rather fond of Drest, Emerick, Tig, Drest’s family, and the numerous other characters that fill these books. This is a rich world that is grounded in reality and historical research.
Parental Advisories: Because this book is set in a historical setting, the violence depicted is fairly straightforward. There are blood wounds, people are stabbed, and killing does occur. If you’re worried about this, I’d advise waiting to hand your book over until your child has reached middle grades. Other than that, these books are rather clean and very enjoyable. I highly recommend them.