Reviews for Wolf Tree

Booklist Reviews 2010 October #1
Picking up a year or so after The Nine Pound Hammer (2009), the second book in the Clockwork Dark series is every bit as peculiar and inventive. Ray and the remnants of the Ramblers are living in the Smoky Mountains when a visitor arrives, dripping oil like blood and speaking about the Darkness: a black cloud that has wiped out most of the daylight in Kansas and is spreading like smoke. The very thing that will challenge some readers--the quirky plot that jerks along like an old jalopy--will be the thing that endears it to others. One thing's for sure: Bemis' pastiche of steampunk and Americana is a refreshing change of pace from the paranormal stuff crowding the shelves. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
This sequel to The Nine Pound Hammer continues the story of Ray, a Rambler; his sister Sally, a seer; and siren Jolie. They're searching for the Wolf Tree--source of the human spirit and key to destroying the Darkness overtaking the American Great Plains. Interweaving American tall tale, Native American folklore, and elements of steampunk, Bemis presents another engaging story of spirituality and intrigue. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 July #2

Bemis continues to mine rich elements of folklore and tall tales in the second installment of the Clockwork Dark series. Ray and those he joined to fight the evil Gog have established a haven in the Great Smokey Mountains. However, there is little time for domestic tranquility and still much to do to keep the evil unleashed at bay. Ray has come into his own as a Rambler, a heroic role shared by his father. This means he will have to journey to investigate the darkness emanating from Gog's still-threatening machine. His sister is convinced their father is still alive and assumes a more integral part of the story. Their friend Conker, the son of John Henry, feared lost, may have survived and could still retrieve what they need from the legendary Wolf Tree. Multiple threads of plot keep the action moving, and the large cast of characters, both realistic and mythic, sometimes challenges readers but is ultimately successfully managed. Aspects of various cultures are woven together, giving the narrative a unique yet grounded flavor. (Steampunk. 9-12)


Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 December

Gr 6-9--The Wolf Tree is a busy book with multiple characters, frenetic action, and a hodgepodge of plot points. It's part steampunk, part American tall tale, and part pseudo-Native American legend. The story begins with readers learning that Conker, John Henry's son who was thought to have died in The Nine Pound Hammer (Random, 2009) is alive, having been saved by Redfeather's magical copper necklace. The siren, Jolie (who also disappeared at the end of book one), takes him to a secret spring to nurse him back to health. Meanwhile, Nat, Si, Buck, Marisol, Ray, and the children they rescued from the Pitch Dark Train are living an idyllic life in the Smoky Mountains. Ray finishes his training and becomes a full-fledged Rambler. Life is reasonably comfortable until a dying stranger with pasty gray skin and motor oil in place of his blood comes to Shuckstack speaking of a terrible Darkness that is consuming the towns of the prairies. Ray and Marisol leave to investigate the Darkness, and Sally, Ray's sister, leaves to try and find her father. Meanwhile Conker and Jolie are trying to find the Nine Pound Hammer in order to repair it with wood from the fabled Wolf Tree that is a path into the spirit world. It is the only weapon that can destroy the Gog's evil Machine, which is causing the Darkness. Ultimately there is too much happening, and it is difficult to invest in either the characters or the story line. Recommended only where the first book is popular.--Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 April

Gr 5-8--Part American tall tale and part steampunk, John Claude Bemis's sequel (2010) to The Nine-Pound Hammer (2009, both Random; Listening Library, 2009) begins with a party for Nel's birthday. The festivities are cut short when a stranger appears with a horrible story. There is a force known as the Darkness that is spreading a terrible disease. People are turning gray and bleeding oil before they die. At various intervals, members of Nel's medicine show set out to discover the cause of the illness and to figure out a way to stop it from spreading. Meanwhile, Conker, John Henry's son, has awakened from near death and he and the half-siren Jolie set out to restore the handle of his father's nine-pound hammer. Their quests will all culminate with the search for the mythical Wolf Tree, which is guarded by the half-wolf/half-human rougarou. The Gog has not been fully destroyed and remaking the hammer with wood from the Wolf Tree is the key to his ultimate destruction. John H. Mayer's voice is too old for this story and not nuanced enough for such a varied cast of characters. The story switches frequently between pairs of characters, which doesn't translate well to audio, and lovely musical interludes don't always fit the tone of the chapters they introduce. Purchase only where the first book is popular.--Necia Blundy, Marlborough Public Library, MA

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VOYA Reviews 2010 October
In this second book in The Clockwork Dark series, four Shuckstack expeditions seek the Gog's machine, which spreads a lethal Darkness that turns blood to oil. The Rambler Ray and Marisol, with the help of a crow, a copperhead, and Redfeather, find the evil Bowlers who protect the machine. Ray's sister, Sally, interprets mystical prophecy, strikes out on her own with directions from her father's rabbit foot (lodestone), and joins forces with the orphaned Hethy. They rescue and restore the mythical rougarou, creatures with wolf and human qualities that guard the Wolf Tree. Jolie, the mermaid, heals the injured Conker, John Henry's son. Pursued by the heartless and villainous Stacker, they find the nine-pound hammer but seek the Wolf Tree to repair its handle. Si and Buck complicate the overall quest by becoming Stacker's hostages. All battle the Bowlers at the Wolf Tree but disperse to heal and find the key to final victory, Ray and Sally's father Fantasy and folklore fashion a subtle ecological nature-versus-machine tale that cautions readers to keep ideals and act thoughtfully. The many characters and interacting story lines make it a complicated read, but like the Everlost trilogy (Simon & Shuster), it is strong middle school fare with independent stories, sufficient exposition, and clear character tags for sometimes flat characters. This adventure will have high appeal for middle school boys and girls, and hopefully will motivate them to learn more about the folklore mentioned, but not explained, in the text or author's notes.--Lucy Schall 3Q 4P M Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.