In the continuation of Mason’s (Lone Wolf, 2016, etc.) middle-grade fantasy series, young Jackson Wolfe tries to prevent a hostile wolf pack and poachers from harming his family and animal friends.
England-born Jackson has truly found his place in the magical Oregon valley called Oldenglen, where he and his family make their home. Thanks to a wolf bite that his father sustained as a child, Jackson has heightened senses of smell and hearing. He’s the perfect intermediary between the glen’s “woodfolk” animals and humans, particularly because he also possesses the powerful Gladestone, which grants him the ability to converse with wildlife. But not all the animals are friendly—an unknown wolf pack, led by Rogue, is planning to settle in the glen. Not only could the woodfolk become the wolves’ prey, but the pack’s presence, so close to humans, could also attract hunters. Meanwhile, poachers have snatched a fledgling eagle named Windlord from the glen. Jackson organizes a rescue mission, but he may be losing the woodfolk’s trust; he wants to drive Rogue’s pack away without any killing, while some animals would prefer letting gun-happy humans take care of the problem. With help from his human pal, Sarah Lopez, Jackson struggles to ensure everyone’s safety, including his own. Mason’s third series installment offers another rousing Oldenglen tale. The story starts quickly—Jackson spots the unfamiliar wolf pack in the very first chapter—and a handful of animal and human villains help maintain a perpetual sense of menace. Overall, it’s a breezy read that’s filled with welcome moments of humor, as when Notch, the black-tailed jackrabbit, says, “I’m all ears.” Readers will sympathize with Jackson’s ongoing struggle with his own identity; a few animals think him to be a wolf sympathizer, while the vicious Rogue abhors his human side. Mason also presents a motley, offbeat assortment of characters, including a vole and saw-whet owl, which may encourage young readers to do further research on unfamiliar species.
A witty, energetic story that’s as educational as it is entertaining.