Winter of the Wolf


Young Adult - Mystery
264 Pages
Reviewed on 02/25/2020
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Martha Hunt Handler grew up in northern Illinois dreaming about wolves and has always understood that her role in this lifetime is to tell stories and be a voice for nature. She has been an environmental consultant, a magazine columnist, an actress, and a polar explorer, among other occupations. She has also driven across the country in an 18-wheeler and been a grand-prize winner of The Newlywed Game.

Soon after she and her family relocated from Los Angeles to South Salem, New York, she began to hear wolves in her backyard. This was the start of her twenty-plus-year career as an advocate for wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center, where she currently serves as Board President.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Winter of the Wolf is a work of fiction set in the mystery genre and penned for young adults by author Martha Hunt Handler. Recommended for more mature teens due to some thematic content such as death and suicide, this engaging and well-written novel explores themes such as spiritualism, grief and the culture of the Inuit people. Bean is our hero, a fifteen-year-old with an empathetic heart, who is suffering deeply with grief from her brother’s death. Though Sam’s fate points towards suicide, Bean has other ideas and sets about an investigation with her close friend Julie to find the truth. What results is a highly emotive tale of spiritual truth and realistic life dramas.

Author Martha Hunt Handler writes with passion on her topic, combining culture, nature and realistic teenage angst and emotions to create a truly impactful work of fiction. Bean is a superbly well-developed central character, with many beautiful flaws and lessons to learn, but also admirable emotional strength and fortitude in the face of extreme tragedy. She is an inspiring hero for whom teen readers can root, and with whom they can empathize greatly as the investigation and mystery plot heats up around her. The storyline plays out with great pacing to keep the readership intrigued from start to finish, and what results is an accomplished novel that touches on powerful messages to take away. Overall, Winter of the Wolf is a highly recommended read for all YA fans.

Tiffany Ferrell

In Winter Of The Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler, we are introduced to Bean; a typical fifteen-year-old with a creative best friend and a family that is normal in their own quirky way. Then her favorite brother Sam killed himself one snowy evening and everything changed forever. Trying to put the pieces and memories of her brother's final day together, Bean knows deep in her heart that her brother wouldn’t have taken his own life. Being a deep believer in Inuit customs and tradition, Sam was a teen that wasn’t considered quite normal like his peers, and Bean goes back and forth on things he had said about his death and the type of green burial he wanted beforehand. Part of her wonders if it was these beliefs that led her brother to hang himself. Still, to Bean, something just felt off and, despite it all, she has serious doubts. While her family goes through the stages of grief, Bean enlists her best friend Julie to help her dig deeper to find out what exactly happened to her brother.

I think Martha Hunt Handler did a wonderful job in writing Winter Of The Wolf. While I find Bean a bit annoying and self-centered at times, overall, I think she is a great character to which you can relate. It’s also obvious that the author did her research into Inuit customs and beliefs which I found very fascinating and well thought out. The story has an amazing flow and is on a subject that really hits close to home for a lot of people. It’s also very realistic in portraying the stages of grief when it comes to losing a loved one to suicide. I was very surprised at the ending but I feel it gave the book a nice sense of closure. It’s the best novel I’ve read so far this year! Winter Of The Wolf is definitely a book that I would recommend to friends. I also am eager to read more of Handler’s work.

Risah Salazar

Sam Hanes is found hanging by his neck in his room. To say that his family, particularly his sister, Bean, is devastated is an understatement. Sam was fascinated by the Inuit, shared their beliefs, and was just simply in love with nature. His quirks and enthusiasm make it harder to believe that he chose to end his own life. No matter what Bean feels, the detective and coroner say it's suicide. Sam's family accepts this, and his friends are quick to pass on their judgment. But Bean knows her brother best and shares an unexplainable bond with him. She is sure that there is more to his death than suicide, and she's not going to stop until she finds out everything.

Martha Hunt Handler's Winter of the Wolf is a touching story of how Bean turns her grief into gratitude as she, with the help of her best friend, discovers what really happened to her brother. The book starts with a haunting mystery that engages the reader's attention and does not let it slip away. The emotional depth and great imagery reflect Handler's unquestionable skill and patience. Bean is a strong and smart kid, and these traits only intensify as she blooms into a woman. Her character is as complex as her growth is amazing. Winter of the Wolf is a wonderful mix of sleuthing and spirituality; it's a great read for those trying to reconnect with themselves and the people close to them.