Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Annabelle has lived in Wolf Hollow all her life: a quiet place, still scarred by two world wars. But when cruel, manipulative Betty arrives in town, Annabelle's calm world is shattered, along with everything she's ever known about right and wrong.
When Betty disappears, suspicion falls on strange, gentle loner Toby. As Wolf Hollow turns against him, and tensions quickly mount, Annabelle must do everything in her power to protect Toby - and to find Betty, before it is too late.
Powerful, poignant and lyrical, Wolf Hollow is an unforgettable story.
I think this would be more suited to adult readers maybe to read with children as I'm sure the trauma of war on a veteran would need explaining. Well written it's set during WW11 and covers a period of awakening for Annabelle when her idyllic life and friendship with Toby the war veteran is tested by a rather nasty bully (Betty) who moves into Wolf Hollow.
Once Betty arrives in town she makes her presence known and quickly establishes herself as the school bully with Annabelle her main target. When Betty bullies Annabelle outside school Toby sees what is going on and warns her off. Betty then targets Toby and accuses him of a terrible crime. Toby is mistrusted because he is a loner and chooses to live in the woods hardly ever having contact with anyone but Annabelle knows he wouldn't have done what he is accused of and makes it her mission to find out the truth.
We don't get to understand why Betty behaves the way she does and I felt that this should have been covered, similarly with the character of Toby. Of course like all bullies Betty does pay a high price for her bullying and sadly the ending was bittersweet.
I liked Annabelle and how she changed over the course of the book having to grow up, face her fears and make choices that she knew were right.
If Lauren Wolk had just given more depth to the characters with some understanding of why they behaved the way they did I feel I could have given this a 4.5 star but without these 'missing' pieces of the puzzle I felt 3.5 was the best I could give it. It has been rounded up for Goodreads and Amazon.
I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.