A review by thepagemasterr
Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long


White Fang x Balto
This is a story that explores what it means to be human in a circumstances that push you towards your most feral instincts.

This story has pretty solid world building; a barely livable ice planet that hosts a yearly sled race for valuable materials that the main character Sena gets roped into. The race has a high mortality rate but for a planet riddled with poverty, it's sometimes the only financial option available to those with any hope of escape. I thought the author did a great job of balancing the elements of science-fiction that still left readers feeling grounded in the reality of this icy world.

Sena's relationship with Iska, the wolf she ends up paired with, is heartwarming despite taking place in an arctic tundra. You see a lot of growth within Sena because of Iska, and at times it felt like Iska was the main plot driving character of the book instead of Sena.

I also like that its a book that isn't heavy on romance.

Where the story fell flat for me was the writing itself. There are a lot of sentence echoes, where either one word is repeated multiple times within the same paragraph or the exact same thing is said but in a slightly different way multiple times to drive a point home. This caused a lot of unnecessary redundancies that just didn't land with me. I can tell that the story has good bones but in my opinion this book needs a heavy-handed editor who can polish this so it doesn't feel as monotonous with the language.

It also took me a while to actually get to a point in the story where I felt truly invested in the plot or where this might take the main character. The MC Sena proves on multiple occasions that she has the smarts to be resourceful but literally 90% of the chaos caused in this book is done by her own idiotic decisions (she even calls herself out that what she's about to do is stupid but then she goes ahead and does it anyway...more than once!). The stakes don't feel raised at all until at least 50% of the way through the novel, which is when the race actually starts.

I also felt that the author's attempt to address racism, while it is to be commended, it started to feel very heavy-handed. Her culture was constantly pushed to the forefront in her character's interactions with others. It got to a point where I was like "I get it, she's half-scavver and people have opinions about it", but there wasn't a need to mention it nearly as often as it was.

I do think that this is a solid debut; there are a lot of great things to work with and build upon. I still found myself curious as to what was going to happen next. While a lot of this book didn't land for me, I do believe that the premise is promising but some of the polishing just needs tightening up.

* I received this ARC through NetGalley, which has not impacted my review in any way *