The Rewilders is a thrilling dual narrative adventure set in the stunning Scottish Highlands: a heart-warming story of building trust, finding friendship and family, and helping others which kept me engrossed throughout.
Twelve-year-old Esme is reluctant to spend the weekend with her gran as she will miss her best friend’s party. When she gets to her gran’s house things get even worse: she finds the school’s ‘bad boy’ Callum in the shed with his latest foster carer, and friend to her gran, Sadie. Why have they been brought together by Gran and Sadie? Well, it just so happens that Gran and Sadie have got themselves into a spot of bother, and need the children’s help to fix it.
When visiting the Rothiecraig Estate, gran had found an abandoned kitten, and smuggled it home. However, she soon discovers that she has made an alarming mistake as the kitten, who is growing fast and is causing havoc in gran’s house, is not, in fact, a domestic moggy, but a wild lynx kit. Whilst Gran cares for the young lynx, she also recognises and respects that it is a wild creature and needs and deserves to be released back into the Highlands.
Gran and Sadie put their trust in Esme and Callum, along with Gran’s gorgeously friendly dog Shug, to undertake a journey across the Highlands to rewild Cora on the Rothiecraig Estate some 30 miles away. Not quite the boring weekend that Esme was anticipating!
The children soon find themselves on a dangerous mission to protect and rewild Cora as they venture through the Highlands. Could the howling they hear outside their tents be from wolves roaming the landscape? Will they be able to shield Cora from human threat?
This is an exciting, fast-paced adventure with unexpected twists and a real sense of threat and danger that kept me on the edge of my seat as I kept turning the pages. Esme and Callum are in a race against time to bring Cora home, but will they find that they have left it too late for her to re-join her family?
I really enjoyed that this story is written from the dual perspective of Esme and Callum who have both built a defensive wall around themselves and are hiding who they truly are whilst at school. In their shared hope of getting Cora to safety, they form a tentative friendship which becomes stronger as trust develops and they open up to each other. My heart ached for both of them as they are both, in different ways, struggling at school. Callum has been fostered by the wonderful Sadie who is there for him and gives him the security and safety he needs after an incredibly difficult start in life. Esme has had to cope with separation and a toxic friendship, but finds the strength and self-belief to be true to herself, and to be the person she wants to be.
Cora is such a beautiful animal, and I really loved that there was no attempt to tame her in the story. She roams freely, developing her natural hunting instincts, which makes it all the more awesome that Esme and Callum get to spend time with this elusive animal in what was once a natural habitat.
This story sensitively highlights the issue of rewilding through projects to re-introduce species which were previously native to the Highlands, such as lynxes and wolves, in order to help sustain the natural ecosystem.
Indeed, this is a perfect story – either in class or at home – to lead into opportunities for discussions around themes of bullying, friendship, family and environmental sustainability.
The Rewilders is a heart-warming, exhilarating and truly unmissable adventure for children of 8+.
Thank you so much to Anne Glennie and Cranachan Publishing for inviting me to be part of this Blog Tour, and for providing me with an early copy of The Rewilders in return for my honest opinion.
Please do check out the other stops on the Blog Tour for this brilliant book!