ARC Review: The Wolf and the Water by Josie Jaffrey

Some secrets are worth killing for. The ancient city of Kepos sits in an isolated valley, cut off from the outside world by a towering wall. Behind it, the souls of the dead clamour for release. Or so the priesthood says.
Kala has never had any reason to doubt their word – until her father dies in suspicious circumstances that implicate the city’s high priest. She’s determined to investigate, but she has a more immediate problem: the laws of the city require her mother to remarry straight away.
Kala’s new stepfather is a monster, but his son Leon is something altogether more dangerous: kind.
With her family fractured and the investigation putting her life in danger, the last thing Kala needs is romance. She would rather ignore Leon entirely, however difficult he makes it. But when she learns the truth of what really clamours behind the wall at the end of the valley, she faces a choice: share what she knows and jeopardise her escape, or abandon him to his fate along with the rest of the city.
If she doesn’t move fast, then no one will make it out of the valley alive.


Thank you to the author for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.

The story of The Wolf and The Water is based on Plato’s account of the island of Atlantis as well as Ancient Greece. This one of the aspects that really attracted me to this book. The plot revolves mostly around a murder mystery that soon reveals itself to be much more. I thought this mystery was intriguing and almost obvious at first, but I never guessed right. Although I think there a few things that could be done differently like the foreshadowing of the culprits and their overall involvement in the story. They were barely involved, so how could I have predicted it was them? Once the conflict was clear, the story became too easy to predict, unfortunately.

One of my problems with this book is the pacing. The pacing of this book in the beginning is very slow and I just couldn’t really get into at first. There was a lot of exposition in the beginning and little progress of the story in the first third of the book and frankly, I was bored with it.

The main character is Kala, heiress to one of the ruling families of the city, who is shunned and even reviled by most of her society for a disfigured leg resulting from a disease. I really liked Kala. She was clever and pragmatic, she knew how to survive in this harsh world; she was also a very stubborn girl, determined to solve her father’s murder even if it was endangering her own life. Kala’s character especially highlights the position of women in this society with no power, no consideration as well as this society’s view on disabled people (i.e. cursed).

As far as the rest of the characters, I loved how supportive Melissa was to Kala; though she always felt more mature and motherly despite being Kala’s lover. Also, I just loved Leon! He was kind and fiercely loyal to the ones he loved despite the consequences.

The writing was one of my favorite things about The Wolf and the Water. I highlighted several beautiful and meaningful quotes. Some of my favorites were:

“You’re comfortable with me, and I’m comfortable with you. But we aren’t the end for each other.”

“There’s no point in my being heroic if you’re just going to throw yourself back to the monster, is there?”

Overall, I enjoyed The Wolf and the Water because of the characters and the intriguing world. But it had some problems with the plot as I mentioned above which made it boring at times. Still, I’m intrigued to read the next book in the series and see what happens to Kala, Leon and the rest of the people of Kepos after that harrowing finale.

Rep: disabled mc, poc characters, f/f relationship. Content Warnings: ableism, misogyny, racism, violence and death, physical and emotion abuse, attempted rape, slavery.

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