Summary: Caught on an ice floe while hunting during the spring thaw, two brothers find themselves on a long journey, crossing over into the country of wolves. Missing their families, the brothers only encounter tragedy among the wolves, but a rapid escape by the elder brother and taking down the leader of the pack put him on his way to returning to his wife. Travelling for days, he finally makes it back to her in one piece. Unfortunately, all is not as it seems.
Number of Pages: 83
Age Range: 13-14
Review: A haunting story about two brothers who are taken far from home while out hunting, The Country of Wolves by Neil Christopher, illustrated by Ramón Pérez highlights family ties and the mysticism of Inuit beliefs. Pérez’s illustrations are eerie and vividly frightening. His illustrations of the wolves in their human form as well as the final illustration of the older brother are the stuff of nightmares.
I do wish though that the afterword had been the preface instead. Because I am not too familiar with Inuit culture, I missed the references to otherworldliness with the Northern Lights and the moon as a bridge. They act as clues to the true nature of Christopher’s piece of Inuit folklore. The tale ends up chilling as both brothers are forever affected by their trip to the land of spirits, and reading it did pique my interest in Inuit culture as hoped by Christopher at the end of the book.
It’s a brief, seemingly simple story, and an excellent introduction to Inuit beliefs. My favourite part is Christopher’s quote about stories being sacred and acting as a link to our ancestors and the land. What a powerful and true concept.
“To some this is a sacred story, as all traditional stories are sacred to those who know their value. Remember that stories link people to their ancestors and to the land. These ancient tales tell of magical events that happened before the modern world invaded the hidden places.” – from The Country of Wolves by Neil Christopher, illustrated by Ramón Pérez, page 5