By Author / Illustrator
Everything with Words
Paperback / softback
'An astonishing exploration of grief and love and wildness.' Hilary McKay. A tale of loss that is also a gripping thriller, a realistic study of grief that skirts the margins of fantasy, it walks wolf-like between worlds and genres. Richard Lambert writes with a poet's eye; he has created something magical here. The storytelling is as bold, sinewy and uncompromising as the beast that shadows Lucas in the mountains above his home. This is a wonderful read and the advent of an exciting new voice in children's fiction.
JONATHAN STROUD; A stunning, special debut about love and loss and how the wildness can save us. CHELSEY FLOOD; A smart chilling page-turner that kept me guessing right up to the end. HAYLEY LONG An insightful novel about bereavement, but also about what growing up might involve in a world that actually needs wolves. The Wolf Road is exciting, necessary reading. MONIZA ALVI; Moving, menacing, written with cinematic clarity. ANDREW COWAN
Stunning. Haunting. Emotional. The Wolf Road will capture your heart and move your soul as you journey through the challenges of love, grief and the difficulties of growing up.
The Wolf Road hits you hard right from the offset. By the end of page two, you have already witnessed the devastating deaths of both Lucas' parents and begin his journey through grief. When his parents are killed a car accident, caused by Lucas' dad swerving to avoid a wild wolf standing in the middle of the road, Lucas is forced to uproot to live with an estranged grandmother in a completely different part of the country.
Leaving his friends, school and his family home behind in Somerset to live in the Lake District, Lucas must find the strength to begin to know his grandmother, start a new school and learn to live in the cold wilderness. However, Lucas cannot leave the memory of the wolf that killed his parents behind, and when he hears there is a wild wolf roaming his district, Lucas takes it upon himself to find it and kill it.
Through this emotional journey, the reader is immersed in teenage angst, love and bullying. The ending was so heartbreaking, I read it twice.
What I loved the most about The Wolf Road was the way Richard Lambert made me question and challenge the narrative; is the wolf real or is it an extended metaphor for Lucas' grief? The ending implies the metaphorical wolf is his grief - Lucas takes hold of his grief, faces it and deals with it. On the other hand, does Lucas learn to love and protect something he once so hated and in doing so learns to live and forgive?
This is just the sort of book I would teach in my classroom; it is ripe for unpicking all the hidden meanings and motifs. For any teenage/young adult reader this book has so much to teach as well as an incredible narrative to read for pleasure.
I truly wonderful debut novel that will leave its mark on the reader for a long time to come.
352 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 11+
A hugely enjoyable YA debut from Richard Lambert. The Wolf Road is a story about Lucas, the central character and only survivor of a car accident which killed his parents, causing his life to change completely. It is extremely atmospheric with rich detail of the new home and community he moves to in a remote area of Cumbria. You can almost feel the cold penetrating the rundown cottage and see the wilderness surrounding it.
With barely any time to come to terms with his loss, Lucas is enrolled in the local high school. The difficulties he finds fitting in at his new school and making friends will resonate with teenagers, but for me the complexity of his relationship with his unorthodox Nan was the scene stealer. The ebb and flow of their prickly forced connection permeates the story. Both are privately grieving the loss of their loved ones and this is further complicated by their difficult past.
However, it is the menacing undertones that drive this tale as the almost mystical, certainly threatening, shadow of a wild beast lurks throughout. Lucas is certain this was the reason the car crashed and is now in fear for his life.
Wolf Road will appeal to older teen readers on a number of levels, part supernatural, part coming of age, and as the story develops the increasing tension will keep them turning the pages to discover who will survive the inevitable clash between Lucas and the wolf.
352 pages / Reviewed by Ruth Cornish, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 14+