Book Review: The Wolving Time by Patrick Jennings

The Wolving Time: Jennings, Patrick: 9780439395564: Amazon.com: Books

Title: The Wolving Time

Author: Patrick Jennings

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Number of Pages: 208

Rating: C

Recommended?: No

–WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS–


Geez. This book had SO MUCH potential. I really enjoyed the first half or so and then it just fell apart.

The Wolving Time is about a teenage shepherd boy named Laszlo in 16th Century France whose parents can shapeshift into werewolves. Instead of eating human flesh and wreaking havoc, these lycanthropes are peaceful and mostly spend their time communing with local wolves. Laszlo can’t wait until he can shift too, but their peaceful life in interrupted when the ward of the local priest witnesses his mom shifting.

The girl doesn’t want to do anything that will hurt Laszlo and his family, but the priest is different story- a sadistic religious zealot who tortures and kills ‘heretics’ and would like nothing more than to put Laszlo’s parents’ heads on pikes. Laszlo and his parents do their best to resist Pere Raoul’s evil influence, but the time comes when they have to flee for their lives and find a safe place to live.

The premise of this book reminded me of the far superior (and very adult-oriented) Stephen Graham Jones novel Mongrels, but for a book with torture and mass murder The Wolving Season ends up being pretty toothless (pun totally intended.) The characters are pretty bland (each sporting more or less one character trait) and the good characters are perfect, with an underdeveloped antagonist who lacks a single redeeming quality.

Worse, Laszlo tries to save the life of the man who tortures and kills hundreds of innocent people and grieves his death. Even the girl who he beat and terrorized acts all sad that Laszlo didn’t manage to save his worthless hide. I understand that middle grade fiction can’t be too dark but I think we can agree that not everybody deserves a second chance?

Laszlo literally could have let him die and I would have had a smidgeon of respect for him. The ending made me so mad because after this character did all these terrible things the wolves don’t get a satisfying revenge against him. I would’ve loved to have seen this book go in a darker direction and be marketed for young adults or adults. The premise was awesome- execution, not so much.

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