Lee, Tanith. Wolf Queen. Penguin Group, 2003, 216 pgs. Ages 13-18. ISBN 0-14-250187-5. $6.99 P8 Q6
Wolf Queen is the third in a four-part series, and it is highly recommended that the reader pick up the first two before embarking on this paperback. That said, Lee tries to fill in an uninformed reader on what has gone before. Nevertheless, it can be confusing, as the characters have several aliases, depending on what tower or people they are currently associated with. They also flit here and there in disguises and can sometimes take on the mantle of heroic or evil. The main character, Claidi, or Claidi-baa, or Claidis, or Claidissa, who actually isn’t Claidi at all, is traveling by star-ship to find her fiance, Argul, among the Hulta people to explain why she left him jilted at the altar. There are elaborate explanations about a faked diary, kidnappings, former boyfriends and a mechanical doll snake who serves as a surrogate mother to the lovelorn and confused teen.
The passages go back and forth between diary entries and straight action prose, some of which is written in present tense, and some related in past tense. But in spite of the confusion about what has gone before and what is going on now, it is worth plowing onward. Claidi-who-is-not-Claidi has the language, mannerisms and personality of a modern teen girl, and as such is highly approachable and adorable. She is extremely sarcastic and writes her diary in a modern DUH! sort of style. Since she uses initials to refer to characters and places, (WT for Wolf Tower) the reader almost expects her to insert an OMG and a BFF in the passages. However, there are also insertions of language you might expect to be there in a sci-fi tale of a mystical people, such as “man-height length” to refer to a measurement of about six feet.
After many close calls and misunderstood actions and revelations, much is revealed to the confused but plucky teen, and she is reunited with her fiancee and traveling to her wedding in the former mechanical snake which has now turned into a flying castle in the sky. All a bit much for a reader who likes a bit of realism, but definitely enough pathos and plot twists to keep reading. Just read parts one and two first. May 2014 review by L.R.