Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin book review

World War 2 takes a different turn in alt-history tale Wolf By Wolf

It’s 1956, and Hitler has been hiding himself away for years. Assassination attempts on the Führer by the Resistance have been futile. But as of yet, none of the attempts have involved Yael: a shape-shifting Holocaust survivor. If she can just get close enough to him by winning the Axis Tour, she will finally be able to finish the job and avenge her beloved wolves.

Graudin certainly has an affinity and charm to writing historical fiction – having previously penned The Walled City, a fascinating telling of fictitious inhabitants of the real-life buildings in Hong Kong – but it’s Wolf By Wolf that sees the author firmly placing herself into the realm of alternate history.

It’s extremely compulsive, which is very much a conflicted tension because of the way the timeline flits back to Yael’s life at a concentration camp to the segments where she races against time to become victor of the Axis Tour. It’s harrowing and heart-rending, but at the same time the rush that surrounds every step of the race makes it an addictive read.

There is a real sense of regret throughout, but not without reason, and it makes Yael much more
genuine as a teenage protagonist. It’s the metaphorical howling of those she has lost to the war though, that keeps Yael determined and the story full of striking characters.

Every wolf is unforgettable and, much like the rest of the war victims, as Yael tells us, so they should be. Graudin reminds us of the very real human tragedy of World War II, and that goes beyond it being the basis of Wolf By Wolf.

Not once does Graudin ever lose sight of the events that inspired Wolf By Wolf though, and it’s her clever command of resolve and a teenage girl’s fight through her fears for a better world that makes Graudin such an unstoppable writer.