Let me just start out by saying that Wolf of Wessex by Matthew Harffy is an AMAZING read. It’s a masterpiece of historical fiction set in 9th century Wessex, and brings to mind the writings of Bernard Cornwell. I was expecting this to be a book about werewolves based on the title and description, but I was pleasantly surprised to find my initial expectation to be quite wrong.
I received an advance reader copy of this book through NetGalley, and I am providing an honest review voluntarily.
TRIGGER WARNING: This book involves gory descriptions of torture and murder, threats and reference to rape, and some descriptions of harm to animals.
The year is 838, and Dunston is more than happy to live peacefully in the forest by himself. But one morning, he finds the corpse of a man that has been horrifically mutilated. The man’s daughter, Aedwen, is hiding nearby. Dunston is quickly accused of the murder. He finds himself in the difficult position of keeping the young girl safe and trying to clear his name, while being hunted down by savage men trying to keep a horrible secret from being revealed.
As Dunston and Aedwen make a dangerous journey through Wessex, he relies on skills he has learned during a lifetime of living in the wilderness. But in order to survive, he must own up to his past. He must become the man he used to be; a man he had promised he would never become again. He is bound by honor and duty to do this.
He must once again become the Wolf of Wessex.
Dunston fits the bill on quite a few of them. He loves animals, he’s grumpy, genuine, loyal, driven, and most definitely imperfect. He’s feeling the effects of his warrior lifestyle at the advanced age of 50 (keep in mind, this IS the year 838). He’s got a bad back, various joint issues, and assorted aches and pains. He much prefers his animals and the quiet solitude of his forest to the town and it’s people. I love him already. But you can tell that he’s got a good heart and a sense of duty. Further into the book, we learn more about Dunston, and I can’t help but gain a healthy sense of respect for the wide range of skills he has. He may be old and kind of falling apart, but he’s still a guy I wouldn’t want to mess with.
I love a good historical fiction book. The author had me hooked from the first page, and I felt like I was immediately transported back to the 9th century. While the old English spellings of words were used, I felt as though it made the reading feel more authentic, and it was still understandable. The writing was easy to follow, and the book was FULL of action. It was a little gory at times, although I do feel that this period in history was a very difficult time to be alive. The most difficult part of the book for me was reading about the animals that were hurt, since I am such a huge animal lover. I loved the way the story unfolded, and especially the dynamic between Dunston and Aedwen. I really enjoyed this book, and if you can handle the material presented, I’d strongly suggest reading it.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 3
Categories: Book Review