Friday, October 22, 2021

"The Wolf's Curse"

Jessica Vitalis is a full-time writer with a previous career in business and an MBA from Columbia Business School. An American expat, she now lives in Canada with her husband and two daughters.

Vitalis applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Wolf's Curse, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Wolf’s Curse features a scene in which my twelve-year-old main character, Gauge, has been rescued from a literal death sentence by another twelve-year-old character, Roux. On the page, Roux presents Gauge to her ailing father, Woolsey the Blacksmith. Gauge introduces himself as “Gauge the Apprentice, grandson of Bastien the Carpenter,” and then he corrects himself: “The late Carpenter.” The Blacksmith responds by saying, “May his soul sail in peace.”

Roux goes on to explain that Gauge is in something of a bind and that it would be best if Gauge weren’t on the streets at the moment. She asks her father if they can keep the boy “for a spell.” The Blacksmith, without knowing anything more, responds, “I insist.”

For the most part, the page 69 test gives readers an excellent idea what they can expect from The Wolf’s Curse.

With the use of vocations instead of last names, the selection makes it obvious that the book is set in a medieval time period. In addition, it’s obvious not only that Gauge is in trouble, but also that he’s lost his grandpap√°. Furthermore, it introduces the kind-hearted Roux and her father, both of whom will go on to have significant roles in the story. The Blacksmith’s response to learning that Gauge has lost his grandpap√° also has great significance in terms of the world building that is at the heart of the story; “May his soul sail in peace” references the villagers’ belief that departed souls travel to the Sea in the Sky, where they light lanterns and sail into eternity. The page gives other hints to the story as well: during the introduction, Roux tugs at her hair, which showcases her underlying anxiety. In addition, we see the Blacksmith cough, which hints at his poor health.

The only element missing from this page that would give readers a more complete picture of the story is the Wolf’s voice. The story is a twist on Grim Reaper mythology and narrated by an invisible Great White Wolf, who is searching for someone to take her job. The Wolf tells her story in first person and often addresses the reader directly with snarky asides. That said, she often dips into close third person like the selection we see on page 69, and Gauge is the main character in the story, so if that page piques the readers’ interest, then they’ll likely enjoy the rest of the book.
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--Marshal Zeringue