Daughter of the Wolf

Written by Victoria Whitworth
Review by Val Adolph

This powerful novel is set in the Humber estuary of northeastern England in the mid-9th century. Radmer, lord of Donmouth, is sent to Rome, and his teenage daughter, Elfrun, is left to manage his lands with very little guidance. She is responsible for the valuable herds of sheep, the farms, fishing, craftspeople, and the day-to-day running of the hall and its staff. Surrounding her are those responsible for each of the many tasks, each one driven by hopes, dreams, strengths and frailties.

She is aware that some are less than honest, that some do not honor their vows, but she is unaware that she might have a traitor in her household. She is unaware, also, of the threat posed by her neighbors across the water, who are always poised and waiting to take over the rich lands of Donmouth should she show weakness.

The writer weaves a complex story with a wealth of characters fully true to their time yet their motivations driving behaviors clearly recognizable to today’s reader. The women are the focus: Elfrun herself, naïve but determined; the enigmatic slave owner; the sexy wife of the shepherd; the smith’s daughter, who dreams of becoming an artist in metal; and the elderly grandmother who tries to make her children and grandchildren live the life that has been denied to her.

Daughter of the Wolf translates a vast amount of research into an engrossing saga of life in pre-Conquest England. The strongly-worked characters, plot, and vivid detail combine to make this an engrossing read.