Book Review · Poetry · Reading

In the Company of Wolves #BookReview #PoetryCommunity

What is a wolf if not
the hungry wildness in the heart?

–“Human Origin”

I read fairy tales when I was a child and was often hoodwinked by them. I tended to take things literally so, for example, when reading about Rapunzel, I considered whether I go could grow my hair as long. Or, after reading Hansel and Gretel, I became suspicious of my neighbor who liked children and liked to bake. Little Red Riding Hood made me afraid of the woods and the wild creatures that might hunt me there.

For that reason, Little Red Riding Hood always bugged me. So I was eager to devour (pun intended) Luanne Castle’s latest chapbook, Our Wolves.

Colorful cover of Our Wolves featuring woman in a red dress being pursued by a wolf.

We meet all sorts of wolves in this slim volume. There’s the father whose eyes turn yellow when he loses his temper. There’s the young man who taunts the young girl taking diabetic jelly to her diabetic grandmother. There’s the wolf as victim, as the misunderstood protector of the girl from the huntsman.

I took the precautions of locking granny
in her closet and when the girl got there, put
her in with the old lady, then waited
for the hunter to show up with his knife
and leering face. But it didn’t go well for me.

–“You All Been Waiting for a Wolf Confession”

In “What Happens in the Dark When It’s Cold Outside,” even the grandmother doesn’t entirely blame the wolf. Castle twists the tale of the grandmother who is faulted for

being old and needy.
I am old and need to be heard.

She also twists the tale of the huntsman or woodcutter, noting the history of variation and revision, a man less of a protector and more of a slacker:

When the wolf came back to the forest,
he wanted to work off some calories
and offered to chop some trees while
I took a nap in the echoing silence. 

–“I’m a Woodcutter, Dammit”

I enjoyed Castle’s versions of the fairy tale, giving each character voice and showing how any one of them could be a wolf. Her interpretations encourage me to rethink the story and its multitude of meanings.

The poems where she describes living with wolves in real life chill me more than any fairy tale. In “How to Digest the Wolf,” we learn about a girl who would

Study his face for bared teeth or curled lips.

Take the belt without crying.


Find a wolf hunter to be your boyfriend. 

Having been a follower of Luanne’s blog (Luanne Castle: Poetry and Other Words (and cats!)) for several years and an avid reader of her poetry and other writing, I’m aware that some of these poems might be autobiographical. (Perhaps we can call them “autopoetry”?)

Ultimately, though, the girl–the poet–wins.

You’re in charge.
Tip your hand, open the mouth,
and howl at the moon, all aquiver.

–“How to Make a Hand Shadow Wolf”

I hope you enjoyed this review. I highly recommend Our Wolves. You can purchase a copy at

23 thoughts on “In the Company of Wolves #BookReview #PoetryCommunity

    1. You’re welcome, Luanne! I wasn’t sure I could do justice to your collection after reading all the other reviews. Yeah, I think the fairy tales a bit too seriously when I was a kid 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You did take them seriously. I was one of them, too. I used to have this dream over and over where I was in the woods and it was “Snow White” (not Red’s woods) and I found a basketful of giant gems in the colors of rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. hahaha I was so disappointed when I woke up and it was gone.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I think all young girls try to grow their hair long. Mine got quite long and then I had it cut and could never grow it long again. It became so thin. Now it’s grey I tried again, but I landed up looking like a
    fairy tale witch I’ve had it cut short again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paula, I had to laugh at your response. I could write a history about my hair 😉 I could never grow it too long when I was young because my mother would cut it. Several years ago I stopped getting it cut, just to see how long it would get. It got close to my waist (the longest it’s ever been) but it was so frizzy that I kept it in a braid. Finally, my husband asked me if I was “going Amish.” LOL. Since then I’ve had it cut, grown it out, and then had it cut. Now I’m growing it out again, but not to my waist 😉 And to keep the fairy tale witch at a distance, I’ve been having my hair partially dyed purple … a good color for a crone 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Luanne Castle deserves all the praise she gets in this review. I love the idea of a different perspective of the wolf fairy tale, and Luanne’s writing does the subject justice. Wonderfully written. Congrats, Luanne. Great post, Marie.

    Liked by 1 person

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