Raul is a young man who attends a boarding school on an island in the Puget Sound. Raul has been there since he was a little boy when his mother disappeared and his father had a hard time raising him alone. Raul is a bit of a loner at the school and he chooses not to talk very much. This is because Raul knows that he is different. Raul has discovered the secret of White Deer Woods and every weekend he goes out to a special place in White Deer Woods and transforms. When a new kid, Vincent, arrives at the school, Raul thinks the Woods has shared the secret with Vincent as well. As Raul finally comes into his own as a young man with Vincent’s friendship, a threat comes to White Deer Woods that affects Raul deeply and will test his friendship.
This book was extremely intriguing, right from the title. Aimed for middle-grade readers, this fantasy is written in a way that will excite and engage. There are many mysteries on the island to be solved and the writing from Raul’s point of view pulled me into the story and the island. Just what is the secret of White Deer Woods, how does it work and who else is like Raul? The extreme personalities of the students and staff on the island made the people jump off the page; Mean Jack who has taken on the personality of an old-time mobster, Mary Anne who has a calming persuasiveness, Dean Swift who cares too much and shares too much, Cook Patsy who is a protective wrestler and of course Tuffman, a sadistic PE teacher who has it out for Raul. I loved how the mystery of the island and Raul’s transformative process took place and how it is loosely modeled after a twelfth century story called Bisclavret. Overall, an interesting and different middle-grade coming of age story with elements of beauty, forgiveness, magic and mystery that is anything but a werewolf story.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.