Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long is a heart-wrenching survivalist fantasy. Sena must survive the wilds of her frozen planet and keep a group of scientists alive to avoid an angry local gangster.

All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.

From Goodreads:

A captivating debut about survival, found family, and the bond between a girl and a wolf that delivers a fresh twist on classic survival stories and frontier myths.

After angering a local gangster, seventeen-year-old Sena Korhosen must flee with his prize-fighting wolf, Iska, in tow. A team of scientists offer to pay her way off her frozen planet on one condition: she gets them to the finish line of the planet’s infamous sled race. Though Sena always swore she’d never race after it claimed both her mothers’ lives, it’s now her only option. But the tundra is a treacherous place, and as the race unfolds and their lives are threatened at every turn, Sena starts to question her own abilities. She must discover whether she’s strong enough to survive the wild – whether she and Iska together are strong enough to get them all out alive.

“Two girls and a wolf standing down the darkness.”

This story genuinely took me by surprise with its fast-paced and emotionally crafted plotline. Most survivalist-based stories take their time to drive things to slow desperation, but this book was desperate from the start. The stakes felt high, and Long managed to prevent that from getting old. The relationship between Sena and Iska the wolf made me feel so much more than I expected. The world was written in such a fantastic way, I felt like I could taste the snow while I was reading (on a very hot Texas summer day!).

“That’s what friends are for, right?”

I nod and sniff to keep back the tears.

“Thank you for teaching me that.” I whisper.

Sena’s world is cutthroat, and she reflects this in her mentality of the world and people around her. I always appreciate the main character without rose-colored glasses on. Another thing that I enjoyed about this story was getting to see the start of her relationship with Iska. As she starts to care for the scientists whose safety relies on her, Iska also starts to show herself to be an interesting character. There were moments where the interactions with the wolf genuinely made me chuckle.

“The sounds of the wolves in the cages fill my ears. Yips and barks and growls. I can’t tell if it sounds like home or if it sounds like death.”

I am so excited to get a final copy of this when it releases in 2022. The found-family aspects had me crying. The world and its horrors, both human-made and not, had me on the edge of my seat. Not only is Sena a fantastic character to read, but our side characters were also lush and full of life to read. This was hands down one of the best books I’ve read this year.

“That’s what Iska’s growl is. A death song.”

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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