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VINE VOICEon 14 November 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Wolf Princess is a charming story of English schoolgirl, Sophie Smith. Orphan Sophie is unremarkable, and her life is drab. She dreams of wolves and snow, and longs for something wonderful to happen. Just when it seems that Sophie and her friends will be spending the school trip in the most boring place imaginable, everything changes and she's assigned to the St Petersburg group.

Put on the wrong train, the girls end up at the palace of the compelling Princess Anna Feodorovna Volkonskaya - the Wolf Princess. Sophie, feeling more at home than she's ever felt, learns about the Volkonsky family, killed during the 1917 revolution, and is drawn into the mystery of the lost Volkonsky diamonds.

I think 8-12 year-old readers will find this most satisfying - it's a sweet, uncomplicated story of an orphan finding her place in the world, and of friendships between seemingly mismatched people: Sophie and her two roommates Marianne and Delphine in London, as well as the mysterious Dmitri and Masha in the Volkonsky palace in Russia.

**Mild Spoilers Ahead**

Most readers will be able to guess the 'mystery' out straight away, and in view of that, I feel like the author shouldn't have dragged the reveal out to the very end, because it only made me frustrated with Sophie for being so obtuse. Even though logic makes that seem like a sensible line, storytelling demands Sophie work it out close to the same pace as the reader. I also felt the characterisation was a bit two-dimensional: Constable played with contrasts that usually work well, but didn't add enough nuance or sympathy to really make the story come together and work for me at an emotional or story-level. There were hints and flashes of better, particularly in the telling of the Volkonsky history, and if she can bring the same level of workmanship to the rest of her writing, then I hope her future books will really be magical.
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on 16 October 2012
Cathryn Constable has a rare and extraordinary imagination which will enchant young girls (and much older ones) all over the world. They won't be able to help falling in love with Sophie Smith and the magical, snowy, icy, sparkling, strange and beautiful Russia she finds herself in. The book opens with Sophie's haunting dream memory of her father which sings its way through the story, and the courage Sophie has to muster to conquer the difficulties she faces is convincing and skilfully written.

There are scenes that make you think and scenes that make you wonder; scenes that make you fear for Sophie and scenes that make you cheer her on. And the magical story is, from time to time, brought back to reality by the humour, real friendship and occasional rivalry between the three utterly believable ordinary schoolgirls who find themselves in an extraordinary world.

I am far older than the readers this book has been written for, but it is testament to Constable's imagination that her story caught my imagination and held my attention. I only wish I were ten because when I was it took me days to return to the ordinary world from the world of a book as good as this one.
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on 17 October 2012
If you have a daughter who thinks that she is not beautiful enough, or not bright enough, or that her family is just too difficult, or that nothing exciting ever happens in her life, in short, if you have a daughter give her this book and let her make friends with Sophie, who will take her on the most magical journey to Russia.
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on 17 October 2012
Wolf Princess is a magical story for young girls. Beautifully written, with lots of sly humour, Cathryn Constable perfectly captures the voice of Sophie as she is slowly drawn into the mystery of her own identity. I could feel the icy coldness not just of the frozen Russian winter but of the villains as they start to circle their prey. A brilliant story all round.
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on 16 April 2015
This may be classed as a children's book, but adults can enjoy it too! A young schoolgirl and her friends go on an exchange visit to Russia and enter a world of fantasy and mystery. Said schoolgirl discovers her hidden past and affinity with wolves. A simple but enjoyable story. Would I read it again? Most certainly!
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VINE VOICEon 21 October 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Sophie Smith is an orphan. Left with her stern guardian, she attends a boarding school where she dreams of better times. Making friends with Delphine, an elegant French girl and Marianne, the clever one in the class, she thinks nothing exciting will ever happen. But when a stranger turns up to their school and demands Sophie's presence at her school in Russia, mysterious events start to happen and the girls find themselves at the Winter Palace, miles away from their intended school - and things start to get strange with Princess Anna Volkonskaya

The Wolf Princess is a very nice children's story. The characters are lovable and the settings evocative. It moves along at a very good pace and whilst the plot is a bit predictable, it unfolds in a way which is very well done. Well worth a read.
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on 10 April 2013
I liked reading 'The Wolf Princess', despite being rather removed from the target audience!!! I feel that this is perfect for a young female readership, but even as a 23-year-old chap, I found plenty to enjoy here. The story begins in a very traditional - or even 'old fashioned' - manner, centring on Sophie, an orphan who dislikes her boarding school in London. It was a frightfully clichéd starting point, and I was put in mind of 'The Little Princess' by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which has clearly influenced this story! It is only a few chapters before things become slightly more interesting, however, and Sophie and her two best friends embark on a trip to Russia, where the story takes off.

Throughout, Sophie's adventures are narrated beautifully, and there was a distinctive sense of wintery atmosphere. Constable's prose is simple, but effective, and I think that she has hit a good balance between dialogue and description. There were hardly any sections where I felt things were being bogged down. I happily read this in a single sitting over one long evening.

The story itself is fine; nothing hugely original, but told well, and, personally, I was kept guessing a number of details until quite near the end. I felt ever so slightly disappointed on a few counts, which I can't really mention for fear of spoiling things. Essentially, I was hoping the story was headed in a more magical/fantastical direction, while instead it stays relatively down-to-earth. The characters are for the most part well drawn, Sophie being especially charming - though, once again, not hugely original. As long as you approach this book as intended, with no snootiness, I shouldn't think anyone will be particularly dissatisfied by either plot or character.

I'll also note that 'The Wolf Princess' doesn't really have much in the way of realism; the vision of Russia is fanciful to say the least! I'd that Constable is somewhat influenced by Eva Ibbotson, who also sets her stories in 'the present', but a present of entirely fictional veracity. Russia in this book is more akin to a fairytale-land than anything, which is perfectly fine, for it suits the mood of the story.

All in all, I think this book will appeal to a young readership, but is enjoyable for anyone craving a nostalgic taste for charmingly told fairytale.
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This is a lovely story full of magical moments full of hope the main character is Sophie Smith a orphan girl from England she dreams of being someone special. Lost in the snow on a school trip to Russia, she's rescued by Princess Anna Volkonskaya. But as night falls and wolves prowl, Sophie discovers more than dreams in the princess's crumbling palace of secrets Between mysterious tales and hidden diamonds of the long lost Volkonsky royal generation, Sophie uncovers something she thought would only happen in her most vivid dreams. When the palace's current princess turns on her, how is she to save herself? More importantly, how was she to know that she should've never given over the diamonds?
This book is one of the most enthralling things I've ever read, I felt as if I was really in action when reading it; my posture tense and ready to spring. I found it almost impossible to put this book down! The plot twist shocked me and left a feeling of amazement as I put together all the clues that had been given earlier on in the book.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Wolf Princess is a beautifully written tale of an orphan who finds herself head over heels in snowy adventure near St Petersburg, Russia, with her two best friends. The three lead characters — Sophie, Delphine and Marianne — are distinct and credible, and their affectionate banter throughout the book keeps the story locked in reality. Sweaters with holes in them have as much a part to play as legendary wolves and diamonds. A generous smattering of Russian words and culture go to make this book something of an education as well as a good read.

I enjoyed this book, and I think its target readers will as well. Ultimately, plot-wise, it is on the slight side, and most readers will have figured out what is going on too early for the mystery to remain mysterious, even though the climax is adventurous and stands on its own merits.

In terms of description, this is a beautiful book, even if it just occasionally transgresses into the realms of over-writing, for example giving snow a smell. Readers may be reminded of the Box of Delights or even The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, though the Wolf Princess lacks the same depth.

Of course, not everything is new. Orphans, wolves, undisclosed identity. Much of this ground was trod by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but Cathryn Constable's writing is newer, fresher, and much more accessible to today's audiences.
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on 26 October 2012
You can't review this book without discussing the cover and the gorgeous purple edging. What you can't see from the photo is the sparkly bits and silver lettering which make this book look absolutely stunning. The purple edging which seems to becoming a more common addition to books recently really sets it off. If I was a kid, I would like nothing more than to find this book in my Christmas stocking. I think it might just be my favourite cover of the year.
The book is set in Russia during the winter, which just adds to that Christmassy feel. A huge amount of snow features which left me in desperate need of a lovely hot chocolate and a hot water bottle. At times I actually felt physically freezing, especially when Sophie and her friends found themselves thrown off a train in the middle of the night during a snow storm.
The richness of the prose in the first chapters had me reminiscing my childhood favourites such as The Children of Green Knowe and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. It really has that timeless quality to it. As the book progressed I did become absorbed into the story although I will admit that I found it slowed a little too much in the middle. Thankfully the ending really pulled me back into the book and I was completely transfixed by the story.
Many of the characters were lovely - although as normal the animals won my heart. The wolves were just adorable, even though to begin with they were portrayed as threatening predators. The baddies of the book, were really mean as they tried to make Sophie's life even harder than it already was. A few characters in the book talk with Russian accents and I did find that jolted me a little out of the story. However I am fully aware of how difficult it is to write a character with an accent and the balance between too much and too little has been dealt with very well in this book.
I loved that this story had a strong influence of Russian folktales and I really hope to see more authors using them in the future. This is a beautiful book that I would personally buy for any child who still believes in a world encased with magic.
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