Debut author Scanio’s YA tale of a young wolf who vows to take revenge against the pack that killed her family.
Luna is making preparations for her little brother’s coming-of-age howling ceremony when a sudden forest fire has her fleeing for her life. Once the fire dies down, she returns to her territory but is unable to find her family. She then travels and meets another wolf, Na’vi, who informs her that her family was killed. Na’vi also later reveals that his own family was murdered by the Desert Valley Pack, and he smelled traces of the pack’s scent around the bodies of Luna’s dead family. Luna and Na’vi eventually meet another wolf, Caleb, and his pack, and Caleb tells Luna and Na’vi that the Desert Valley Pack murdered his father, too. Later, they learn that Caleb’s brother, Bullet, is a traitor working for the Desert Valley Pack. Together, Caleb, Luna, Na’vi and their new friends vow to exact revenge against their shared enemies. After a series of skirmishes, the final battle looms. Luna’s story certainly has the potential to be a captivating one, as Luna makes friends with other wronged wolves on her path to revenge. However, the simplistic prose can be clunky at times, and scads of exposition tend to bury the narrative, leaving the characters short on depth and difficult to distinguish from one another. To be fair, some wolves do stand out, especially Blade, the black wolf with the rotten attitude. And sometimes Scanio lets her characters emote quite beautifully: “Tears ran down [Luna’s] muzzle,” she writes. “She lay down on the ground and covered her eyes with her paws.” But as a whole, the wolves aren’t particularly memorable characters, and readers will be left feeling little in the way of empathy as the wolves proceed to kill one another. The recurring violence may also be at odds with the narrative’s intended audience; the prose style and length suggest the story is meant to be cataloged as a chapter book, but it’s difficult to imagine parents of beginning readers being OK, for example, with Bullet snapping his own father’s neck.
A solid first effort from an aspiring young author, despite flaws and an uncertain intended audience.