Great things can come in small packages. Having read Mark Jonathan Runte’s Ash, a 300 page novel (which I naturally reviewed; you can read that here), I was curious to see what he does with a fraction of the space, in Wolf Prince of Kstovo, part of his Midwinter Nights duology (where the author is credited as Mark Runte). At just eighteen pages on Kindle (but apparently fifty pages in paperback, although I assume a good portion of that comes from the enticing preview of Eve), there isn’t a great deal to Wolf Prince of Kstovo. And because of that, there won’t be as much to this review as normal.
But as I mentioned above, great things can come in small packages. While there isn’t a great amount of story that can fit within that length, what is there is absolutely wonderful. This is a short story, and one that is easy to digest in a single sitting, which is the perfect length for the story being told. Reminiscent of fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm—and in some aspects, with shades of Rumpelstiltskin, while being entirely original—Wolf Prince of Kstovo is set in Russia during the 1800s, and tells the story of nobleman Aleksandr’s meeting with commoner Ekaterina, before shifting focus to Ekaterina’s daughter, Diana, cannily named after the Greek and Roman Goddess of the Hunt.
To say any more about the story would risk spoiling it. While there aren’t many major twists or turns in Wolf Prince of Kstovo and I could generally broadly see where the tale is going (with a couple of lovely exceptions), its true beauty is in the way Runte delivers the story. Like those classic fables—and unlike their Disney adaptations—this story is both beautiful and haunting.
I’m a fan of classic fairy tales, and seeing the book’s evocative prose capture the essence of these was a real joy. Throughout it, the author guides the reader through an inviting tone that hints at the darkness contained within. This is aided by pacing that fits both the story and its style, providing a slow burn that carries the story to its wonderful conclusion. Given the genre, there isn’t a huge amount of dialogue, but what is there holds perfectly true to the genre, feeling as though it sits outside of time.
As I mentioned above, Wolf Prince of Kstovo is part of the Midwinter Nights duology. If you see that and are concerned about needing to read two books, don’t be. This is a standalone book with a connective thread with the other book, Zolushka. It may not be required reading to appreciate Wolf Prince of Kstovo, but I’ll preemptively say that while you don’t have to read both books, you should.
When I consider that Wolf Prince of Kstovo is part of a duology, the thought is always accompanied with an addendum of “for now, I hope.” While I haven’t yet read Zolushka, on the strength of this book, the only thing that’s stopped me is the need to write this review before a second book pollutes my thoughts. Rest assured that as soon as I’ve finished writing this, I’ll be jumping straight in, and my review for that will be here on Friday. Wolf Prince of Kstovo is a thing of beauty. If you have any love for classic fables, you’ll find so much to love here. And if you haven’t discovered those fables, this is a wonderful place to get a taste of them.
Those same tales spoke of men turning into wolves, but they had less to say about wolves becoming men. In all else, he hadn’t told a lie to Ekaterina. He was a prince, just not of the tsar’s court in all its glitter and light. His court was the open winter fields and the dancing blue lights overhead. The place where he could lift his head and sing to the winter stars.Wolf Prince of Kstovo: Midwinter Nights
Wolf Prince of Kstovo: Midwinter Nights was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.
Wolf Prince of Kstovo is available in paperback and on Kindle, exclusive to Amazon.
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Interested in purchasing Wolf Prince of Kstovo?
Please find a link below; please note I do not collect any proceeds from the sale.Wolf Prince of Kstovo : Midwinter Nights