Blanka was freezing. Although it was the middle of April, she hadn’t brought a jacket. She had expected to be constantly moving, not waiting around like this in the furthest corner of the lawn on the edge of the forest. The school was an angular silhouette against the night sky. A semicircle of torches set on iron stakes lit up the trees behind her.
Two masked figures in dark cloaks carrying torches had just appeared and taken a second group of students away with them. Now there were just four of them left – two other girls, who had already paired up and , standing a bit apart from them, Blanka and a pale boy with blond hair, someone she hadn’t noticed this morning at the welcoming ceremony.
Blanka joins several new arrivals at the mid-year intake of the Europa International boarding school, a school for the best and the brightest. The school has been here for about fifty years but many of the buildings are much older. There is even a museum on the grounds which tells stories of nuns, orphans and long-ago witch trials. Blanka is sceptical about the ‘Society of Wolves’ that she hears other students talking about. Even when her introductory ‘tour’ of the college turns spooky, Blanka is sure the ‘wolves’ are just playing pranks to scare the new students. Then she stumbles across a body in the library. Purportedly a tragic accident, Blanka is encouraged to get on with her important studies. But it’s not that easy. A leather-jacketed man is following her, the Society of Wolves seem to hate her and her roommate thinks Blanka is going mad. Blanka is determined to understand what’s happening but doesn’t know who to trust.
Pact of Wolves was first published in Germany in 2006. This English-language edition was translated by Sue Innes in 2008. Secret societies exist in many places, their exclusivity a trap to those inside them, and both an enticement and a warning to those outside. Everywhere there are secrets. Blanka struggles with a secret of her own, not revealed until late in the novel. But the present is consumed with her search for answers to the mysteries that keep surfacing around her. Each mystery solved reveals another deeper puzzle. In this way, Pact of Wolves is a coming of age novel about learning to interact with a larger world, about gaining perspective and learning about trust. It’s also an intriguing mystery, with a touch of the supernatural. Recommended for mid- to upper-secondary readers.
Pact of Wolves, Nina Blazon translated by Sue Innes
Allen & Unwin 2008
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond.