“Do I want to read Artie and the Wolf Moon by Olivia Stephens” has been on my mind since I first saw it “advertised” as a reader online copy, when it came out and finally when I saw it on the shelf of the library a few days ago. And the answer was always no until I saw it at the library. It was not like I didn’t have four other books in hand, or have a ton at home, but my gut said, “Get it.”
It is about coming of age with a few twists and turns. I am giving this a 4, but that is a rounded up rating as the illustrations were not always to my liking (really it’s a 3.7 then). They could be a bit too busy, physically dark, and sometimes with a “unfleshed out” feeling to them. All of this does not allow you to see everything necessarily. Which is a little bit of a disappointment as the illustrations are part of the story as they show such things as facial features (smiles, eye changes, etc.) and hide plot points that you do need to look for. There were dark colors, but even when there is some light, even then, heavier hues could be used. The illustrations were there to set the tone as we could not have “spooky mood music.”
However, the concept, while not new (as it is a “coming of age while you are different story”), is fun and slightly fresh. A family of werewolves deal with the concept of family, secrets and the past. Perhaps some parts are idealistic and a bit heavy handed (the villains are white whereas Artie’s family is of color), but in the end it is a strong story that most aged 12 and up could do. Some aged 10-11 would be okay, but there is fantasy violence and a same-sex romance, and the concept might be older. Therefore, know your reader. The part that I enjoyed is that while some of the usual legends of werewolves (and vampires) are there, Stephens has made things their own as well.
Potential for a sequel, but I haven’t seen anything advertised yet.