Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott
Publisher: Knopf BYR
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Summary:Right before Sadie died, she begged her sister, Ruby, to do the one thing she could never do herself: Find the treasure on Gray Wolf Island.
With just a mysterious treasure map as a guide, Ruby reluctantly allows some friends to join her on the hunt, each of whom is touched by magic: a boy allegedly born to a virgin, a girl who never sleeps, a boy who can foresee his own death, and a boy with deep ties to the island. Each of them is also keeping a secret—something they’ll have to reveal in order to reach the treasure.
As the secrets come to light, Ruby will have to decide: Can she make peace with her friends’ troubled pasts and continue to trust them? Can she forgive herself for doing the unspeakable? Deep in the wilderness of Gray Wolf Island, Ruby’s choices will determine if they make it out with the treasure—or merely with their lives.
My Rating:★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: Character-driven, chilling, and atmospheric, we follow Ruby as she sets out with a task to find the fabled treasure on Gray Wolf Island! With a beautiful writing-style, fantastic cast of characters, and both mystery + adventure with every page, you’ll be immersed as you uncover the secrets woven throughout the story!
What I loved about Gray Wolf Island so much, was how the descriptive and atmospheric writing-style really brought setting and characters to life! It really builds the setting, emotions, and depth to the story!
Ruby Caine lives in the sleepy town of Wildewell, where rumors and theories about the treasure on Gray Wolf Island are always churning. Her twin sister Sadie has been passionate about finding the treasure and Ruby knows it. So, sadly when Sadie passes away she leaves Ruby with a task, to discover the treasure she could never find.
So one year later, with the present grief of losing her twin, she still keeps the promise in the back of her mind. When by a chance of fate, browsing the public library with Doris, the elderly woman she’s in charge of looking after at the town’s nursing home, she finds a copy of Treasure Island with a poem which reads much like a riddle, that she believes will help her find the treasure and honor her twin sister.
From there she enlists the help of Elliot Thorne, a wannabe bad boy who comes from a long-line of treasure hunters and the knowledge that could help Ruby on her adventure. He then gets his friends, Gabe Nash and Charlie Kim to tag along on the adventure. When Doris finds out about the treasure hunt and that they need a boat, she tells the group that her granddaughter Anne Lansing would be a great addition to the team.
Then the 5 set out to uncover the mysteries woven throughout the poem and find the treasure!
The characters we’re all written so well! Through the descriptive and beautiful writing, they really come to life through Ruby’s POV. Another great addition to the mystery and depth of the story, was the 2nd POV introduced early on, which follows a boy who wakes up on Gray Wolf Island with no memory of how he got there or who he is, and how his journey ties to the overall story of Gray Wolf Island.
The plot itself carries a lot of mystery as we find out more about the history of the town of Wildwell, Gray Wolf Island itself, Ruby, her team, and the secrets some carry with them.
With such a unique plot, I kept making connections and figuring out just where this mystery was headed with each turn of the page! I fell in love with each of the main characters: Ruby, Sadie, Elliot, Anne, Charlie, & Gabe!
The connections these characters have with each other was so well written and you really become connected with them through the unique and atmospheric writing. You feel like you know so much about them with such few lines.
Gray Wolf Island also really develops on important themes such as family, friendship, grief, and acceptance. While also having humor and balancing dark and lighthearted moments so well!
I loved the banter between Ruby and Elliot & the beautiful friendship between Anna & Ruby! Also having a twin myself, it was so easy to connect with Ruby and understand the grief + loss that she felt so deeply and the duty she held to honor her sister’s wishes.
It was also great to see diversity within this novel. There’s Charles Kim, who is Korean, Anne Lansing & Doris, who are Native American. The town itself is also discussed throughout with some Native history. This novel also heavily incorporated elements of magical realism (If you’ve read this novel or are planning to, I would also recommend checking out Anna-Marie McLemore’s Wild Beauty).
As the novel progresses, the team gets into the web of mystery as they attempt to find the treasure and encounter some trouble along the way, when its revealed they must reveal secrets as the journey continues.
My only issue was that while the story flowed so well, nearing the end, it felt much slower for me personally and the end felt rather rushed.
The mystery really comes together as you discover more about these characters and the island! The plot really goes in directions you don’t expect and has such great twists when you learn more about the island and its treasure!
Gray Wolf Island is a unique, atmospheric, and magical tale with twists, turns, and really focuses on the friendship and adventure that Ruby has as she attempts to find a mysterious treasure to honor her twin sister! The plot, vivid setting + writing, and characters will stay with you long after the final page!