#BookReview ~ Winter of the Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler #Mystery #Spirituality #DebutNovel

Author: Martha Hunt Handler

Published: July 2020 by Greenleaf Book Group Press

Category: Mystery, Spirituality, YA (with reservations) Book Review


A tragic mystery blending sleuthing and spirituality

An exploration in grief, suicide, spiritualism, and Inuit culture, Winter of the Wolf follows Bean, an empathic and spiritually evolved fifteen-year-old, who is determined to unravel the mystery of her brother Sam’s death. Though all evidence points to a suicide, her heart and intuition compel her to dig deeper. With help from her friend Julie, they retrace Sam’s steps, delve into his Inuit beliefs, and reconnect with their spiritual beliefs to uncover clues beyond material understanding.

Winter of the Wolf is the story of a family’s grief and how they cope with tragedy. It’s far from all doom and gloom though. This coming of age story is about following instincts and beliefs, exploring new avenues to discover the truth, however painful. And, although the story centres on teens, there are serious adult themes and topics in the book that I think wouldn’t be suitable for younger teen readers.

We’re introduced to the Hanes family following the untimely death of seventeen year old Sam. Bean is fifteen, empathetic and with a strong leaning towards the spiritual. The only girl of four siblings, she and her brother Sam shared a very close bond. Events unfold mostly through Bean’s voice.

Bean is devastated by the loss of the brother she adored. Because of the circumstances, Sam’s death was ruled as a suicide. Bean didn’t believe Sam would commit such an act due to his character and beliefs, and was determined to prove it. He was passionate about nature, appreciated life in all its forms and believed and followed the Inuit culture as much as he was able. And although Sam wasn’t a living character in the book, his presence was felt strongly.

The Inuit are people who live with nature, not separate from it.They hunt to survive but never for sport. They have respect for all souls and don’t think of animals as being lower than us or soulless, and that was something Sam could relate to. from the time he was young, kids in our neighborhood called him “Indian boy” and “freak.” I felt terrible when he got picked on, but I wasn’t big enough or strong enough to stop it. Sam never seemed particularly bothered by their taunts. He was courageous and steadfast in his beliefs, even when it cost him popularity votes.

Bean’s mother is unable to cope with her son’s death and is drawn into a deep depression. Her father and two brothers recover more quickly and get on with their lives, leaving Bean to take over her mother’s role. Bean is determined to find out the truth and she and her best friend, Julie, embark on a journey of discovery as they dig deeper into the days before Sam’s death, and into his beliefs, in the hope of finding answers. Following sightings of a black wolf and delving into shamanic rituals, Bean eventually finds peace, truth and a reconnection to her family.

I didn’t know what to expect from this book, it was the cover that appealed to me with the face of the wolf constructed from print, although you can’t tell on a small picture, but it proved to be a touching and interesting read with the exploration of spiritualism, the belief that human energy can never die, only transform, and the Inuit culture. The protagonists are strong, Bean, Julie and particularly Sam—and in Bean’s case developed extremely well. Winter of the Wolf fully conveys the natural world aspect, also the grief, confusion and the reactions of other people to a bereavement. The writing evoked vivid imagery, was thought provoking and made sense of certain concepts.

I’m also very happy to note that all proceeds from the book will go towards the conservation of wolves.

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository | Hive Books

Wolf Image by skeeze from Pixabay

About the Author

Martha Hunt Handler grew up dreaming of wolves and has always understood that her role in this lifetime is to tell stories and be a voice for nature. She has been an environmental consultant, a magazine columnist, an actress, and a polar explorer, among other occupations. When she and her four children relocated from Los Angeles to New York more than twenty years ago she began to literally hear the howls of wolves. This marked the beginning of her work advocating on behalf of wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center (nywolf.org). Winter of the Wolf is Martha’s debut novel.

Author links ~ Website | Facebook | Instagram

Thanks for visiting...feel free to share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.