By: Michael F Stewart
Publisher: The Publishing House
Publication Date: August 14th, 2017
The Breakfast Club meets Grimm’s Fairy Tales in the lair of an adolescent psych ward.
Milly’s evil stepmother commits her to a pediatric psych ward. That’s just what the wolf wants. With bunk mates like Red, who’s spiraling out of control; Pig, a fire-bug who claims Milly as her own—but just wants extra dessert—Vanet, a manic teen masquerading as a fairy godmother with wish-granting powers as likely to kill as to help; and the mysterious Wolfgang, rumored to roam for blood at night; it doesn’t take long for Milly to realize that only her dead mother’s book of tales can save her.
But Milly’s spells of protection weaken as her wolf stalks the hospital corridors. The ward’s a Dark Wood, and she’s not alone. As her power crumbles, she must let go of her magic and discover new weapons if she is to transform from hunted to hunter.
After her OCD leaves her in a psych ward, thanks to her stepmother and the wolf she is in league with, Milly has to face her illness head on and learn to live with the other patients on the ward as well. There is Red, Pig, Vanet, Peter, Sleeping Beauty, and the elusive Wolfgang, and each are given their own backstory and function within the narrative.
As Milly recovers, the reader begins to understand her trauma, what has brought her to this point, and some of the secrets about her life that she fails to recognize. She fumbles and makes mistakes along the way, and she isn’t fully recovered by the end of the novel, but she’s laid the groundwork for it and that was what was believable. Counting Wolves, while relying on fairy tales to help tell its tale, is never flippant or devalues what the characters are dealing with. It is honest and forthright and avoids being exhibitory or sensational with its portrayal of mental illness. And my favorite part was that Milly helped herself, with the help of her doctor, to deal with her issues. She isn’t rescued by a love interest and her problems aren’t solved through the powers of teenage love.
Counting Wolves was a quick and interesting read. Learning about Milly’s issues and their cause will keep the reader curious, and her successes are well earned, believable, and leave the reader satisfied.
Michael F. Stewart is winner of both the 2015 Claymore Award and the 2014 inaugural Creation of Stories Award for best YA novel at the Toronto International Book Fair.
He likes to combine storytelling with technology and pioneered interactive storytelling with Scholastic Canada, Australia, and New Zealand’s, anti-cyberbullying program Bully For You. In addition to his award winning Assured Destruction series, he has authored four graphic novels with Oxford University Press Canada’s Boldprint series. Publications of nonfiction titles on Corruption and Children’s Rights are published by Scholastic and early readers are out with Pearson Education.
For adults, Michael has written THE SAND DRAGON a horror about a revenant prehistoric vampire set in the tar sands, HURAKAN a Mayan themed thriller which pits the Maya against the MS-13 with a New York family stuck in the middle, 24 BONES an urban fantasy which draws from Egyptian myth, and THE TERMINALS–a covert government unit which solves crimes in this realm by investigating them in the next.
Herder of four daughters, Michael lives to write in Ottawa where he was the Ottawa Public Library’s first Writer in Residence. To learn more about Michael and his next projects visit his website at www.michaelfstewart.com or connect via Twitter @MichaelFStewart.
Michael is represented by Talcott Notch.Find the author:
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, giveaway, and more were provided by Xpresso Book Tours. An advanced copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.