The Wolfstone Curse - Justin Richards Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFiction

I first came across this book a while ago and put a library hold on it months before it was released. I've been eagerly anticipating the release so I was excited when it finally became available! The Wolfstone Curse follows Peter on a trip to the Cotswolds with his dad. There he comes across the Wolfstone Circle, a mysterious stone formation. Together with local girl Carys, Peter tries to get to the bottom of what the circle really means and the goings on at the mysterious Wolfstone Manor.

The book opens with a prolgue which features characters set in the war. There's a quick diary entry and then we hear a little bit of a character called Copper's story. After that, the book jumps forward to seventeen years later where we're introduced to an unnamed character being held captive. This opening to the book was brilliant and the mystery completely grabbed me. It also did a great job at setting the chilling tone and creating the spooky atmosphere.

Eventually we get to meet Peter, whose story we follow throughout the rest of the book. His dad is a professor and they're heading to an archaeological dig at the Wolfstone Circle. I really liked how the history and arcaeology were woven into the story. The book features events that happened in World War Two which I thought was quite interesting. I think what helped keep the book moving even with all that background information was the way the book included snippets from textbook and website entries that Peter comes across which really kept the writing fresh and interesting. Even things like the local leaflets about the area Peter reads were a great addition.

When Peter arrives at the inn where he and his dad are staying, he meets Carys. I really liked the way these two characters were introducded to each other. There was nothing romantic about it. They were just two people of a similar age who happened to be in the same place. I think it felt pretty normal and realistic how they sort of gravitate towards each other out of boredom and the fact they're constantly surrounded by people older than them. They're both sort of dragged into their parents' business as well. I think the only problem I had was that sometimes I felt a little detached from the two of them. I think there was so much going on around them in the story that I didn't feel I got to know them that well which is a shame. The book is written in third person and kind of drifts about between the characters, mainly Carys and Peter.

The plot was a great mix of mystery and suspense. I found the book to be quite spooky at times which made a nice change! The old, abandoned buildings and the Wolfstone circle made for a great setting, and the focus on wolves and these wolf-men creatures was definitely creepy. I've read a lot of books that feature werewolves, but I can honestly say none of them felt like The Wolfstone Curse. This book featured a lot of history and legend, and really built upon what the history books say about werewolves. The information is teased very slowly so you know something is going on but it takes a little while to get there, which really added to the drama and tension.

The mystery element was also really interesting, with Peter trying to find out what has really happened to Annabelle Forrest, the daughter of someone working on the Wolfstone Circle. There was a really complex web of characters and events that kept the story moving, and I loved it when Peter and Carys were playing detective. I found some parts of the story a little bit convenient (like when Carys is suddenly able to produce visas and a credit card to get her and Peter out of the country on their own) but I did like that it provided some adventure, because let's face it, if they hadn't been able to get out of the country the book would have been a lot more dull!

The book is pretty innovative in that it comes with an app you get for your phone or tablet, which you then hold up to icons on the page to link to extra content. I found the app to be a bit hit and miss and in the end I could only get it to work twice, but when it did I was impressed. It linked to these spooky videos showing the setting described in the book. It really added to the atmosphere (and made me glad I wasn't reading this book at night!).

I probably enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second. Whilst I liked unraveling that web of mysterious characters and finding out just what they were up to, some parts of the book were quite chaotic. It moved about a lot with characters running about all over the place and people popping up here there and everywhere. I did enjoy some of the more action packed scenes (there was one scene with a chase through a train that I could really picture in my head as if it were a film!) and when people started getting killed in the action I found myself glued to the pages. I worried for Peter and Carys and wanted to know what would happen to them, but I don't know if I really felt the story ended the way I would have liked. Sure there were lots of dramatic action scenes, but there wasn't much tying up done at the end. I felt like I needed a few more pages to explain what happened to everyone.

I think this book will appeal to people who like action and adventure. It was definitely a lot more plot driven than character driven, but I think sometimes you need a book like that where you just get swept away in the story! It was an enjoyable read and definitely something a bit different. If you've been put off werewolf stories before then I promise you this one will be a refreshing change!

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