Wolfpack / Amelia Brunskill / Book Review

Havenwood is exactly what it sounds like: a haven, an escape from the outside world, an idyllic refuge for those who need it. So long as you never leave again. For these nine girls, Havenwood is all they've ever known. They grew up here, after all. They know how to tend the bees, bake the bread, listen to Joseph when he preaches. They are nine of them altogether, a singular unit, a younger generation. There have always been nine of them.

Until suddenly they are eight. Because Rose is missing. 

If Rose ran, she won't be allowed back. But they know Rose. They know how impulsive she is. They know if she made a decision in the heat of the moment, she will want to return to Havenwood, return to them. So they hide her disappearance. They don't mention her. They make excuses when asked. But something isn't right. The longer Rose is gone, the more they discover about her. The more intention they see in her disappearance... not all of it hers. 


It's a quick read, which I think is to its benefit. Short and sweet, this novel-in-verse dives into the murky world of cult logic to good effect. It isn't perfect, but it works well as it is. 


  • Poetry POV: This book switches point-of-view in each chapter, flipping from girl to girl to girl. And I think that the poetic form here is to its benefit. These girls don't sound particularly distinct, but what they focus on, what they emphasize within their line breaks and stanzas make the difference. The use of verse here adds an ethereal and haunting tone to each individual narrative. 
  • False Allure: A cult book needs to feature what makes the cult, you know, so alluring. Why are people drawn to this cult? There are so many stories featuring tragedy, heartbreak, and absolute horror at the hand of cults that also fail to mention why people stayed or why they came in the first place. This book, however, is very good at setting up this oasis, at sounding the siren call to bring others in. It is not, on its surface, a horrible way to live, and that's important for setting the tone, for giving us a reason to dig into the layers of awful here. 
  • Playing Power Structures: All good cults are founded by charismatic men, but all charismatic men have women at their backs, supporting them. And this book plays into that well. These girls certainly play with the power structures that they are given, but the ladies higher up do as well. Sure, they can't ever be the prophetic voice of this generation... but they can work with what they've got, to help each other and to mold the world to their will. 


  • Prose Poetry: Though I did throw a sort of bone to the mode of writing up above, it still deserves to be mentioned down here. Because I'm not ultimately sure that this novel-in-verse needed to be in verse. It's written in free verse, prose poetry which means it ultimately reads like regular prose... with a few random line spacings in it. Maybe I just don't understand free verse and fans of the style will love this one. But it felt more random than purposeful to me. 
  • Messaging?: Thought I also complimented the allure that Amelia Brunskill creates in this cultish form of life, that same allure also left me wondering what, exactly, this cult is all about. They follow Joseph, and his teachings are... pretty unclear. There's something about not being attached to family members. There's something about being disengaged from the outside world. And of course, men have more power than women. But I couldn't tell what exactly was being preached here, and so it was hard to find the allure "false." I had no argument to poke holes in. I had no real argument at all. 
  • Indistinct Girls: I mentioned it briefly above, and it bears mentioning again here. None of these girls have a particularly unique voice. Each of their perspectives blends into the others, perhaps aided by the fact that they have all chosen floral names for themselves. I was only really able to tell them apart because they have unique hobbies. Their lives, their voices, their personalities otherwise all seem the same. 



Fans of Amy Christine Parker's Gated will enjoy diving into this new cult lifestyle. Those who loved Courtney Summers's The Project will love getting tangled up in the gray areas of this false preaching. 


Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Date: June 13, 2023
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley and Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. What an unusual novel, to be written in verse rather than prose. I imagine that must have been quite challenging to read at times - do you think it was meant to be performed, like a play, perhaps?

    1. I'm not sure if that's the intention, but I do think it would work very well that way! There's definitely a feeling of having the chorus rain down judgement.

  2. Great review, this sounds like something I'd love to pick up. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for the recommendation!

  3. I haven't heard of this book, but the plot does sound quite intriguing. Also, that's interesting that novel is written in prose, but it does seem like the different perspectives of the girls just blend together because there isn't much that makes them unique.

  4. This sounds so interesting and a unique story line. How rare!

    Corinne x

  5. This sounds like such a unique reading experience with a very interesting cover. Thanks for sharing such a detailed review.


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