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Robert B. Warren
The Pale Wolf

In Umaga, power is everything. Rival warlords fight for control of the land, and innocent people are caught in the middle. Violence is a way of life. But hope still exists. The vulnerable and victimized have a champion. They call her the Pale Wolf.

Asha, a young girl with albinism, is abducted from her village and sold into slavery. She eventually escapes and finds sanctuary in Young Town, where a freak accident endows her with ergokinesis - the ability to control and project energy. She uses her newfound gift to forge alliances, combat tyrannical despots, and save a country on the brink of destruction.  

The Pale Wolf is a superhero tale like no other. Action, drama, and fantasy combine to create an experience that readers will never forget!

This high-stakes coming-of-age drama, set in Africa during the turbulent 1970s and 1980s, finds Asha growing up in the fictional kingdom of Umaga, which she describes as being “a proverbial coffee stain on the map sandwiched between the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Asha is unique amongst the other villagers. She was born with albinism, and her mother cautions her that she has magic deep within her, and to be on the constant lookout for predators. When Asha and her childhood friend Talib are brutally kidnapped and sold into slavery at a diamond mine, she is subjected to abuse after abuse. The duo eventually escapes the mine, finding refuge in Young Town, but after surviving an explosion at the local nuclear plant, Exert, Asha awakens to find that she has developed superpowers, including the ability to emit potent blasts of energy.

Asha must forge a new path for herself on the run from Exert security as she curries favour with rebel army and militias in a fractious land. Warren has crafted a compelling bildungsroman with a passionate, headstrong heroine. Warren captures the struggles and hardships of growing up an outsider, charting Asha’s development as she transforms from a terrified young girl into a cunning, adept warrior. Searing action sequences are tempered by moments of poignancy.

Warren frames the story as Asha penning her autobiography, a choice that enhances her relatability even as her powers give her access to “a fathomless sea of energy.” Asha’s accounts of what it feels like to wield that energy crackle with excitement. However, this approach also sets up an unnecessarily long prologue and several heavily expository passages–the Young Town sequence in particular delays an otherwise compelling story. Still, fans of action-packed stories of growing into power will find much to love in this bold page-turner.

Takeaway: A coming-of-age epic of revolution and super powers, full of feeling and set in a fictionalized Africa.

Great for fans of: V.E. Schawb’s Vicious, Naomi Alderman’s The Power.

Production grades
Cover: C
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: B