Reviewed by: Jo
Rating (out of 5): 5 stars
Every so often you stumble upon a book that takes you completely by surprise. It grabs hold of you and refuses to let go until you are totally enthralled. Raised by Wolves, the first of a trilogy, is unlike any YA I’ve read before and it blew me away.
Orphaned by a vicious werewolf attack that killed her family, 15-year-old Bryn has grown up in the Stone River pack. Rescued by the Alpha and marked as pack at the age of 4, being one of the only humans certainly has its challenges. She has never been entirely comfortable with pack law, choosing to dance on the edges, looking to Callum as more of a father figure than an Alpha.
When she discovers Chase, a newly turned werewolf locked in Callum’s basement, Bryn is terrified it means another rabid is on the loose. Determined to find answers, she ventures on a path that will take her further into pack life than ever before. Torn between the safety she has always known and the danger that has been haunting her since childhood, Bryn has to choose: Is she pack or something else?
Everything about Raised by Wolves is beautifully written, from the intricate details of the world building to the complex and layered relationships. I loved Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ take on weres, the pack felt both secure and sinister at times. Relationships are defined by dominance with animal nature having just as much say as the human part.
Bryn struggles to hold on to her humanity to begin with, unwilling to give into the pack mentality, but it’s only when she surrenders fully to this that she really starts to find her place in this world. At times it’s painful and brutal, but this is brilliantly balanced by witty writing and moments of humor with her friends. Her parental figures represent the two halves of her, with Callum pushing for pack, and her adoptive mother Ali (the only other human) trying the remind Bryn that she, in fact, not a wolf.
The connection between Bryn and Chase is immediate and profound. Even though these two don’t spend a lot of page time together, this bond resonates throughout and becomes the driving force. Bryn starts to realize that there is something different about her and Chase, a reason why they were both targeted by a rabid, leading to a chilling climax.
Raised by Wolves isn’t a tale of young love, or a story of trying to navigate teenage growing pains at the same times as battling the forces of evil. It’s a story of a bond formed by trauma, of young girl standing up to her greatest fears and the lengths she will go to in order to defeat them. Read it, it’s all kinds of awesome.
Sexual content: Kissing