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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Hodgson

We Were Wolves by Jason Cockcroft

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

We Were Wolves by Jason Cockcroft is unlike any book I’ve read in a long time. It’s a haunting tale of familial relationships, survival and living with someone suffering severe PTSD.

The story is told from the point of view of a boy who is living alone in a caravan in the woods. His father is in prison and the boy needs to survive and wait for him to be released. But there is a Bad Man he knows he needs to keep away from, and there are ancient forces in the ground waking up and seeking the boy out.

This book was such a wonderful read: both beautiful and tense. The writing style is quite conversational and has a dream-like and lyrical quality at times whilst at other times it is darkly unsettling. I really enjoyed reading some of the northern phrases in there too. As a northerner who now lives in the south, it made me feel quite nostalgic!

Alongside the harsh realities of the boy’s existence, there is also an exploration of something a little more primal and otherworldly about the human experience and the good and evil which surrounds us. He tells us early in the text that all he knew was ‘street lights and pavements and locked doors and no plants and no trees.’ After going to live in the woods with his father, he learns about the natural world and the woods. In doing so, he taps into more primitive instincts and ways of viewing the world. Being on that cusp between childhood and adulthood as he has this experience is significant. He references his dad’s love of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience frequently, and I feel his fear of the ancient dark forces and creatures of the forest is representative of his anxiety towards growing up and out of childhood. I’m not sure whether I’d classify this as a coming of age novel however as I’ve found it hard to pin down to one genre, but it certainly has elements of it.

Cockcroft uses foreshadowing beautifully and, despite knowing elements of what was to come, I was entranced by both the writing and the breathtaking illustrations which complement the narrative perfectly. The story gathers pace as it goes and, by the end, you are sent hurtling towards a climax you wish so desperately to avoid. The stunning illustrations themselves are also done by the author, who was the original cover illustration for the last three Harry Potter novels.

This book won't be for everyone. It deals with some traumatic issues and does it in a elusive way, but if you give yourself over to the experience then you will have an enthralling reading journey with this book. I was captivated and read it in one sitting.

Thank you very much to Kaleidoscopic Tours and Anderson Press for this gifted copy of We Were Wolves which is out this week in hardback.


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