Jun 12, 2015

Book Review: The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall

Meme: Visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader
The Wolf Border: A Novel by Sarah Hall, published June 9, 2015, Harper.

Book beginning, first paragraph:
It's not often she dreams about them. During the day they are elusive, keeping to the tall grass of the Reservation, disappearing from the den site. They are fleet or lazy, moving through their own tawny colourscape and sleeping under logs - missable either way. Their vanishing acts have been perfected. At night they come back. The cameras pick them up, red-eyed, muzzles darkened, returning from a hunt. Or she hears them howling along the buffer zone, a long harmonic. One leading, then many.At night there is no need to imagine, no need to dream. They reign outside the mind.
My comments:
Zoologist Rachel Caine leaves the wildlife park in Idaho where she has worked with and studied its sizable wolf population. She returns home to Cumbria in England where she reconnects with her mother and her younger brother, having secured a job with a wealthy Earl to reintroduce the grey wolf to the British Isles. Two wolves would be imported from Romania, a breeding pair, and confined in a large enclosed and self sustaining park in the Lake District area.

The novel makes the assumption that Scotland wins independence from Great Britain and becomes an independent nation. It also makes the assumption that a wealthy Earl has received government permission to use parts of Great Britain's nature preserves for the proposed wolf enclosure.

The story is compelling with the "What Ifs" that it proposes. Of course, not everything goes as the Earl assumes, and humans and nature have a way of interfering with best laid plans. Can there really be a border when it comes to wildlife? This leads to some suspenseful events that kept me reading.....

I also liked the character of Rachel, the reluctant zoologist, who at first had turned down the Earl's offer to work with his wolf project, but accepted it later on under duress when she has to leave Idaho for very personal reasons. How Rachel copes with her personal life, her formerly estranged family, and her love interests add a lot to the whole story of her involvement in the wolf project.

Rating: Excellent plotting, characterization, and writing made me easily give this novel five stars.

About the author:
Sarah Hall was born in 1974 in Cumbria, England. She received a master of letters in creative writing from Scotland’s St. Andrews University and has published four novels. Haweswater won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (overall winner, Best First Novel) and a Society of Authors Betty Trask Award. The Electric Michelangelo was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Eurasia Region), and the Prix Femina √Čtranger, and was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Daughters of the North won the 2006/07 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction. How to Paint a Dead Man was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Portico Prize for Fiction. In 2013 Hall was named one of Granta‘s Best Young British Novelists, a prize awarded every ten years, and she won the BBC National Short Story Award and the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Purchase Links: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble
Author Links: Website and Facebook

Check the TLC tour schedule for other reviews of the book.

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for a review galley of this novel.


  1. I love the sound of this one! The setting calls to me, too. Thanks for sharing...and here's mine: “EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES”

    1. I'd love to visit the Lake District too, but it will be nice to know there are no grey wolves wandering there.

  2. Replies
    1. The wolves are well fed and not dangerous to humans in this book.

  3. This sounds intriguing, Harvee! Enjoy your reading this weekend.

    1. Reading two books this weekend, Suko. Hope to finish at least one of them. Happy weekend!

  4. This sounds very different. The plot is a little offbeat. I think that is a good thing as I like such creativity.

    The issues around wildlife preservation are also interesting and worth exploring in fiction.

    1. I like the what ifs in the novel, Brian, and the issues of wildlife preservation.

  5. I like "what if" stories that make me think, and this book will certainly do that!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  6. I think the idea of constructing the border to imprison/protect the wolves raises a lot of interesting ideas and, as you say, tension; the way that Sarah Hall explores these in the story really brought them to life for me as a reader.


I appreciate your comments and thoughts...

You Will Never Be Me by Jesse Q. Sutanto, and Talking to Strangers by Fiona Barton: Sunday Salon

  You Will Never Be Me by Jesse Q. Sutanto Publication: August 20, 2024; Berkley Genre: women's fiction, thriller, suspense, adult con...