Review: THE WANDERERS by Kate Ormand

Posted by on Feb 2, 2016 | Leave a comment

The Wanderers

Flo lives an eccentric life—she travels with a popular circus in which the main acts star orphaned children with secret shape-shifting abilities. Once Flo turns sixteen, she must perform, but she’s not ready. While practicing jumping a flaming hurdle in a clearing beside the circus, she spots a dark figure in the trees and fears he saw her shift. The news sends the circus into a panic.
In Flo’s world, shifters are unknown to humans with the exception of a secret organization—the EOS, referred to as “hunters.” Hunters capture and kill. They send some shifters to labs for observation and testing—testing they don’t often survive—and deem others useless, a danger to society, and eliminate them. To avoid discovery, shifters travel in packs, constantly moving and keeping themselves hidden. Up until now, the circus was the perfect disguise.
Believing she has brought attention to the group, Flo feels dread and anxiety, causing her to make a mistake during her performance in front of the audience—a mistake that triggers a violent attack from the hunters.
Flo manages to flee the torched circus grounds with Jett, the bear shifter who loves her; the annoying elephant triplets; and a bratty tiger named Pru. Together they begin a new journey, alone in a world they don’t understand and don’t know how to navigate. On the run, they unravel secrets and lies that surround the circus and their lives—secrets and lies that all point to the unthinkable: Have they been betrayed by the people they trusted most?


The WanderersBack in 2014, I interviewed Kate Ormand about the release of her debut novel, Dark Days. I found Dark Days action-packed, with a compellingly scary premise: a cyborg army is on its way to kill everyone. I can’t think of much else more terrifying! Kate Ormand’s second YA novel, The Wanderers, promised to be a little less scary, but with just as original a premise.

I really enjoyed The Wanderers. I dove into it without scrutinising the synopsis — the concept of ‘shapeshifter circus’ was hook enough — and so the whole story felt like a really fun rollercoaster ride. It went to places I didn’t expect, and I loved that.

The Wanderers opens by slowly introducing us to Flo and the circus. Juicy nuggets of world-building, such as the story of ‘Lydia and the Wolf’, helped immerse me in the story. I enjoyed learning more about the shapeshifters’ world alongside Flo — a world which gets increasingly brutal. The opening of The Wanderers definitely lulled me into a false sense of security — I didn’t see the action-packed second half coming at all! Kate Ormand knows how to write an action scene, and isn’t afraid to kill off her characters.

This is a book of twists and revelations, and a story of a gentle girl finding out just how strong she can be. Kate Ormand’s writing is fantastic, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next for Flo in The Pack.

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