Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long
After angering a local gangster, seventeen-year-old Sena Korhosen must flee with her 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.
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
EXPECTED JANUARY 11TH, 2022
Sena wants nothing more than to escape the cold.
Unless you’re a corpo, though, chances are you don’t have the funds to escape this frozen planet. As a result, she’s spent the last few years stealing to survive, supplementing her income where she can in pursuit of her wild, distant dream.
That all changes, though, when she steals a fighting wolf from the most feared syndicate boss on the planet. With his ire chasing her across the frozen land, she finds her only escape lies in the race that killed her mothers, the race that has killed countless others since its inception. If she survives the race, she might be able to find a home on another world.
If she survives. That’s the hardest part, and that’s the part that must come first.
Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is an exercise in trust.
Nothing is freely given in Sena’s world. Everyone has a price, and success is a matter of how much you can afford to pay. She’s been scraping to get by for the last few years, and what little trust she has to offer is fading alongside her dream of leaving the icy planet. As a result, she keeps to herself, hiding behind towering walls and locking her heart behind as many doors as possible.
But then there’s Iska, the wolf she is forced to heal. The wolf she finds herself fleeing the Ket with. What began as a matter of contract evolves into something dangerous, and I love the way Sena struggles to make sense of what this could be.
It’s been so long since she’s felt love and trust that she doesn’t know how to recognize it anymore, and it hurts her almost every time.
It also sets her up for an arc I can’t resist. Found family is at the core of Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves, as Sena learns who she can rely on to survive the brutalities of the race. Not every member of her team is a friend, or even an ally, but each danger they face reveals who is worthy of Sena’s trust. More important, who is worthy of her love.
Of course, this puts Iska the wolf at the forefront. She begins as the bane of Sena’s existence, but as they grow closer, my heart grew about three sizes. Call me a predictable sap for loving the “ferocious animal loves and protects only one person” trope, but it’s true! I adore it! And Meg Long gets incredible mileage out of it, to the point you cannot have the girl without the wolf, nor the wolf without the girl.
While Sena’s walls are sometimes too high, I appreciate her flaws.
Sena’s shortcomings are the backbone of this story, too. Her growth seems to follow the pace of the race, only accelerating as thing rush closer and closer to the finish line. For all the assumptions she makes, the grudges she holds, the trust she refuses to give, there are always opportunities for her to make a different choice, to start again. Whether she realizes it or not, she’s making critical changes to her cruel, frozen world, simply because she lets her walls down long enough to try every now and again.
And she does it without an ounce of romantic love, which nearly had me cheering! Not once does she make her choices trying to obtain the romantic attention of someone else. All the love she receives, all the love that she gives, stems from a familial love. It’s based on trust and devotion, and choosing family despite the dangers at hand. No matter how many times Sena thinks she’s doing this for herself, it’s never quite true; there’s always someone else she’s protecting, someone else she’s trying to save.
Can you blame me for loving this book? Choosing love and compassion even when it feels impossible is one of my favorite features a book can have!
If you want to read Mad Max: Ice Edition, starring Angry Girl and Her Very Good Dog, Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is the book for you.
I know, that’s a very specific sort of desire. Maybe you didn’t even know you wanted all these things in a single book. But they’re here, and they’re delightful and gritty and raw. And maybe just a bit chilly, seeing as it’s ice for miles and miles and miles.
Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves releases tomorrow, January 11th, and it’s a scifi standalone with incredible heart. Do yourself a favor, and pick this book up when you have the chance. It’s a perfect fireside read, and more importantly, it’s a first glimpse into a universe I hope we get to explore more in the future.
Also, Iska is the best girl, and I want her to get the biggest doggy treat in the world. She deserves it. 🐺
CW: violence (including gun violence), loss of a loved one, racism, animal abuse (dog fighting), animal death, graphic injury