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Review: The Wolf Princess (Constable)

AUTHOR: Cathryn Constable
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Chicken House
PUBLICATION DATE: September 24, 2013
ISBN: 9780545528399
PAGES: 320
SOURCE: publisher’s ARC
GENRE: fairy tale
GIVE IT TO: MS girls

SUMMARY: Abruptly stranded in the snowy woods on a school field trip to Russia, English orphan Sophie and her friends Marianne and Delphine are soon rescued by the beautiful and mysterious Princess Anna Volkonskaya. Swept away to her crumbling ice palace, Princess Anna treats the girls like royal guests but takes especial interest in Sophie. Before long, the girls begin to suspect Princess Anna is hiding something and has ulterior motives.

WHAT I LIKED: When I think back to this book months or even years from now, I probably will not remember much about the characters or the plot. For me, the crisp, wintry setting ruled this book. The once-beautiful ice palace that has fallen into disrepair, the lonely white wolves howling in the dark, the gorgeous images of fresh, untrod snow sparkling under a cold winter moon. These are the things I will remember most. Beautiful, haunting, desolate, cold, white, crisp. That setting is just…breathtaking.

Constable’s writing style has an old-fashioned feel to it that many readers will love. The writing has a new-classic feel that reminds me of Birdsall’s The Penderwicks and Kelly’s The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. With a nearly all-female cast, The Wolf Princess will appeal more to girls than it will to boys.

The Russian history and use of Russian language are a nice touch. The fairytale feel and haunting wintry setting reminds me of Disney’s Anastasia.

I love saying “Volkonskaya.” Can I please change my last name to that?

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: So sloooowwww. This book took me about two weeks to finish, and that was only by skimming a lot of the last half. Before that two-week reading period, I had started reading it once before and put it down to read something else. Stuff happens in the story, but the action shots are slim-pickins until nearly the end. Even then, the final confrontation with the antagonist felt a bit anticlimactic.

I fell asleep reading this one pretty much every time I sat down to read it (hence, the two-week finish time). For what it’s worth, I fell asleep with Calpurnia Tate and The Penderwicks as well. The old-fashioned feel to these books just isn’t my thing, I guess.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Read it for the gorgeous Russian setting and old-fashioned fairytale feel if you are into that. Despite my boredom, I think I would have loved this book when I was in fifth or sixth grade. I’m too impatient now!

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On order. It may not be my favorite book, but there are plenty of girls in my library who will love it.

READALIKES: Rump (Shurtliff); The Fairest Beauty (Dickerson), Towering (Flinn)


  • Overall: 3/5
  • Creativity: 4/5
  • Characters: 3/5
  • Engrossing: 1/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Appeal to teens: 3/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5


  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: none
  • Violence: mild; some fairytale violence, story of young prince murdered while trying to protect his family, person falls through ice and dies
  • Drugs/Alcohol: none


  • As always, a scrupulously thorough review from Miss RP. But there's a line in her review I'd like to ask about:

    "With a nearly all-female cast, The Wolf Princess will appeal more to girls than it will to boys"

    Forgive my ignorance, and I certainly defer to MRP's experience as a librarian, but is that the cold truth? If so, that really bums me out. Boys reading books about boys; girls reading books about girls; and never the twain shall meet.


    • Cracking me up here, Jonathan! I can only call 'em as I see them at my school. It's a sad reality that many of my boys will not check out books that look "girly." I book talk Meyer's Cinder all the time and encourage my students to ignore the red high heel on the front. Same with Price's Starters. And Gardner's The Red Necklace. Yes, they do get checked out plenty after I booktalk them and say that, but it's sad that I have to say it at all. I even had a boy tell me once that his mom won't let him read a book with a girl on the cover at all. I've had other boys ask me if the protagonist is a boy or a girl–it makes a difference to some boys. I've never had a girl ask me that.

      I was really speaking in generalities in my post, but the fact is, this particular book will appeal more to girls than boys. It doesn't mean boys won't ever check it out, but I guarantee you the majority who check out this book will be girls.


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