Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: October 10, 2017

Genre: YA, Mystery, Magical Realism

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

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” Right before Sadie died, she begged her sister, Ruby, to do the one thing she could never do herself: Find the treasure on Gray Wolf Island.

With just a mysterious treasure map as a guide, Ruby reluctantly allows some friends to join her on the hunt, each of whom is touched by magic: a boy allegedly born to a virgin, a girl who never sleeps, a boy who can foresee his own death, and a boy with deep ties to the island. Each of them is also keeping a secret—something they’ll have to reveal in order to reach the treasure.

As the secrets come to light, Ruby will have to decide: Can she make peace with her friends’ troubled pasts and continue to trust them? Can she forgive herself for doing the unspeakable? Deep in the wilderness of Gray Wolf Island, Ruby’s choices will determine if they make it out with the treasure—or merely with their lives.

From debut author Tracey Neithercott comes a darkly compelling tale of profound friendship, adventure, and finding the strength to tell the truth. “

This was a weird book. But in a good way. I don’t normally like Magical Realism. But I actually enjoyed this one! It was a tad bit more on the magical side than real, which helped. I found the mystery extremely compelling and interesting.

I loved how the relationships in this book played out. Even though it was only over a week, they went through really traumatic experiences individually and together. I think going through something with someone no matter how long you’ve known them, creates a connection.

Character growth was done really well too. Especially for a 300 page book. Everyone confessed something and grew from it.

I really enjoyed the writing style! It was very beautiful but also straightforward. If that makes sense. She did a really good job of having the main character likable despite her awful secret. It’s a hard thing to do! I liked that it was from two different points of view! There is Ruby, and then there is this mystery character. Very well done.

The only thing a slightly disliked was that it took awhile to get into. The first half was really slow. But the last half I couldn’t put it down. I had to know the secret of the treasure and Island.

And the ending broke my heart and I wasn’t expecting that. I actually like when books do that though, because it’s surprising.

So, if you think a weird, magical realism, mystery about treasure and an Island sounds good to you, then you should read this. I really don’t have anything to compare it to. It was very different.

*I have read a lot of reviews that compare this to The Raven Boys. I am not sure why. I have read that book and didn’t think it was that similar. Her writing style DOES remind me of Maggie Stiefvater’s though!

Do you like Magical Realism?

*Usual disclaimer about the content warning, I just put these here for YA books for parents who want to make the decision to let their kids read or not to read a book. This does not necessarily reflect my own person opinions.

CONTENT WARNING: Swearing, mention of rape but not following through with it, sexual talk, kissing, murder, death, depression, lying, trauma, assisted suicide, bullying

OTHER CONTENT: How to handle a traumatic event, healing, friendship, healthy relationships, telling the truth, dealing with bullies

Madilla : Spirit of U’Katang Review (Spoiler Free)

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Author: Ian B. Boyd

Publisher: Ian B. Boyd

Publication Date: March 14, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism (Maybe?)

My Rating: 3 Stars

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Amazon

Synopsis 2

From her very first touch of the piano keys, Madilla feels a strange tingle of energy running through her fingers. In defiance of the customs of her people, she connects through the spirit of her music with a wild mountain sparrow that shows her the freedom of wings and an endless blue sky.

Her piano becomes Madilla’s only escape from the violent atrocities of an isolated and forgotten mountain village, poisoned by centuries of military occupation. But her family has no escape. Tormented by lust and hatred, her uncle succumbs to the ways of the soldiers, igniting an even greater evil lurking within his spirit.

Recognising the confusion of her Mama’s unshakable beliefs, Madilla searches for her own truth. What she learns is that the magic she feels through her piano is only the beginning.”

My Review 2

*Thank you to Mel over at Everyday_Reader for sending this one to me! Click on her link to read her review!*

The Story. I honestly thought this was a very unique book. I’ve never read anything like this before. I loved the musical elements that were infused in the story telling. I myself play the piano (that’s mine in the photo above), so I really related to Madilla when she felt something every time she played. It really is it’s own kind of magic. I am not sure if her village was real or not, but it was most definitely stuck in time. I actually had no idea what time period we were in until Madilla found out. It was a mixture of music, war, fear, and magic.

The Characters. I really enjoyed Madilla. She started off as a strong young girl, and grew into an even stronger young woman. She just wanted to escape and play music, but outside forces kept stopping her. She can’t be found out that she can see through her sparrow, or she will be branded as a witch. She was very brave in figuring out and learning why she has this ability.

The World. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t understand the magic system at all. I kind of knew where it came from, just not how it got passed down. BUT some people might like that because it keeps an air of mystery surrounding the book.

Final Thoughts. While I enjoyed this book and the writing was really good, I found myself putting it down way too much, even though it’s a shorter book. It didn’t captivate me. I don’t have anything bad to say, it just didn’t have that oomph. I liked the message behind the book, that Madilla, as a young woman, was the strong one to save her tribe. Plus, I thought there might be a bit of a forgiveness message in there as well. 3 stars is a “I liked it” for me.

Happy Adventuring