The Literary Empress invites you on a journey… One that promises treasures unknown.
Special thanks to Random House Children’s Book and First In Line for the advanced reader.
Review of Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott.
Wow. Just— WOW. I never expected this book to put me through this many feels. I’m starting this off by saying Gray Wolf Island is a 4.5 stars for me, or like 4.75. Now, here in the Literary Empire, we don’t normally start reviews off with saying what the rating is, but I need to start there. This book hit me with so many feels, in so many places, and the end! Oh my, that ending was beautiful and heart wrenching and magical.
Shall we begin? The basics: Character, Plot, and Craft.
Well, Tracey knows how to craft characters. Can I just end there? What she does is magical, how each character is independent but also forms this motley group that steals your heart. The core characters are Ruby, Charlie, Elliot, Gabe, and Anne. And there’s another perspective that I won’t be sharing because this is an adventure, I’m just leaving you clues. First, Ruby overwhelmingly reminded me of myself, and maybe that’s why I had an instant connection to this book. I’m avoiding a spoiler delicately by saying I’m not ALL Ruby— because her secret, oh my. But how Ruby would rather disappear, how everyone else takes center stage… it was like seeing myself. It’s not how I like to see myself, but it’s a part I’m working on. Anyways, the nuance in her character is fantastic. Elliot… well he easily became a favorite. A ridiculous and wonderful favorite. The entire gang is full of delicately subtle characters who make you laugh, make you cry, who will warm your heart while making you cringe. Tracey creates this group in bold strokes and small, hidden details. While you unravel your assumptions about these characters, you begin to see them for who they are, and what’s more is you understand how those assumptions are shaped by others perception.
TREASURE MAP! Gray Wolf Island is a different sort of treasure hunt, but I’ll leave that for you to decide. The intricate puzzle pieces that make up the plot are masterful. Everyone has secrets, but what if there was a place that draws out the truth? Make your guesses at the beginning, and watch as the story begins to unwind, how the twists tangle you deeper into the mystery of Gray Wolf Island. As someone who normally isn’t shocked or surprised when the “Big Reveal” takes place, I was shock at the ending. But not in the way I expected. The ending. It’s one of the biggest arrows that stabbed through me and left a hole. I mean this is the best way. As in it made me think, made me consider the story, the “moral” (if you want to call it that) or theme presented— and then I started crying. BECAUSE IT’S SO DARN BEAUTIFUL! *gosh I’m tearing up writing this. It’s a rare book that makes me cry, and Gray Wolf Island is something I never expected to hit me so hard. But it did. (I’ll amend this with a PART 2 when the book is released so not to spoil anyone.)
Crafty she be… If this is Tracey Neithercott’s debut, then I CANNOT WAIT to see what she does next. Like I said in my previous reviews— easy reading does not mean poor writing, in fact, it means the opposite. The craftsmanship in Gray Wolf Island is on point. From characters, to plot, to the subtle ways this story works around your heart, Tracey does a phenomenal job. There are many, many layers to Gray Wolf Island and each of them offers something different. The second perspective though… I won’t spoil things but it threw me through a loop and then some. And not until the very end did I figure out the mystery of the island. In some way, it was very Sherlock-esque trying to solve this mystery, trying to find a hidden treasure, and not once did I lose interest.
Now, I’ve read a great many debuts this year, and I have to say Gray Wolf Island has found a very secure top 3 position. (Don’t ask about the others… one is Caraval and the other I’m not sure, there’s still shifting feelings). So why should you go buy this? PS. I’m horrible at pitching books- sorry. Gray Wolf Island has mystery, but also a morality to it that swirls and eddies like the mist surrounding the island (or the gorgeous cover), and for me, that was the magic— that was the treasure.
Tenderly, the Literary Empress pressed the book back into its proper spot in the Library of Fangirling, wishing for more treasure but satisfied with a warm and full heart.
Her Imperial Majesty,
The Literary Empress