Book Review: Counting Wolves by Michael F. Stewart

Instagram: @flexireads

YouTube: Flexi Aquilla 

Twitter: flexi_reads

Facebook: Flexi Reads 

Hey! Ho! What’s up readers? I’m back with another book review! 😄

“There once was a girl named Milly who was the wolf’s coveted meal. Whose father left her in the clutches of an evil stepmother. Whose stepmother imprisoned her with monsters.”

Book Details:

  • Format Paperback | 226 pages
  • Dimensions 133.1 x 202.95 x 12.95mm | 263.08g
  • Publication date 14 Aug 2017
  • Publisher Michael F. Stewart
  • Imprint Publishing House
  • Language English
  • ISBN10 0993757944
  • ISBN13 9780993757945
  • Synopsis:

    Milly’s evil stepmother commits her to a pediatric psych ward. That’s just what the wolf wants. With bunk mates like Red, who’s spiraling out of control; Pig, a fire-bug who claims Milly as her own—but just wants extra dessert—Vanet, a manic teen masquerading as a fairy godmother with wish-granting powers as likely to kill as to help; and the mysterious Wolfgang, rumored to roam for blood at night; it doesn’t take long for Milly to realize that only her dead mother’s book of tales can save her.

    But Milly’s spells of protection weaken as her wolf stalks the hospital corridors. The ward’s a Dark Wood, and she’s not alone. As her power crumbles, she must let go of her magic and discover new weapons if she is to transform from hunted to hunter.

    “The wolf hunts. It prowls as I hurry down the hall past teenagers scavenging for pencils and kisses. Locker doors slam and laughter sprays like gunshots, but I ignore the jibes. I’ve bigger things to worry about. Like the wolf. Like the fire door. It’s a door in the middle of the hallway. For me, that door might as well be a bank of thorns. It might as well be a dragon’s hellish maw. But the wolf hunts, and through that door is my only escape.”

    Let’s take a minute to appreciate the cover design. It looks intruiging doesn’t it? A disco ball and a circle of chairs in the middle of the woods, what could possibly be happening here? The title and the cover design got me hooked when I first laid my eyes on it and when I read the synopsis, I knew I had to read this. And boy was I not disappointed with that decision. (Sorry, I got distracted there for a while.) Let’s get back to the review, shall we? 

    My Thoughts on Counting Wolves:

    Mental health has become an issue in today’s society what with the growing number of people suffering from anxiety, depression, OCD, anorexia, etc., mostly among teenagers.

    Numerous books focusing on metal health have been published and these books have helped victims realize that they are not alone and that there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel.

    Of course, different people have different experiences when it comes to mental health problems and some sufferers might relate to a book and others might feel offended for how an author describes anxiety or other disorder because it might be different from what they experienced and so they might think that what they’re going through is taken lightly and not seriously. (At least that’s what I’ve heard from negative comments of a mental health-themed book I’ve read before).

    This makes it hard for those trying to find mental health books that speak to their soul in which they can relate to. It boils down to picking the right book to read. 

    Boldly tackling issues of mental health, Michael F. Stewart tells the story in an honest and realistic way with hints of classic fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood,  Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, etc., almost like a fairy tale retelling but with mental health issues.

    A unique way of describing Anxiety and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Counting Wolves made me look at a different side to OCD. I’ve seen people suffering from OCD in real life but I think what I’ve seen are the stereotypical side to OCD where one is obsessed with cleanliness and get paranoid when one sees disorganized things and dirty stuff. But with this book, I learned how different people suffer from OCD in different ways.

    In this book for instance, our main character is obsessed with counting 1 to 100 before opening a door, before taking another bite of her food, before talking and before doing other things. If she doesn’t do this, she feels that the wolf will catch her and that something bad might happen not to herself but to someone else. This was her way of protecting those who she cares about. 

    As a reader, I know it’s all just in her head and our main character, Milly, knows this as well. That it’s all just in her head but with OCD and anxiety, she can’t help herself from obsessing and being anxious. It feels so real to her, that she can almost touch the wolf.

    At first, I was annoyed by the counting and it  made me impatient. I can imagine how the people around Milly felt when she had to count to a hundred before responding but as the story progressed, I slowly understood her and came to enjoy every bit of the book. You can see the growth of the main character as well as the supporting characters and not only them, but as the reader, you grow along with them too. 

    I like how the counselors handled them and the techniques used and how trained they are. I’m happy for Milly that she was brought to the care of professionals who really know what they’re doing and who are dedicated to doing their jobs because it is not always 100% guaranteed that when you go to a professional to seek for help with regards to your mental disorder, they will be able to help you. Countless lives were taken by suicide because not even therapy have helped them and a lot of sufferers have given up. It’s a sad fact but true nonetheless. But this book makes us realize that as long as there’s life, there is hope.

    I cannot emphasize enough how much I really enjoyed this book. A million thanks to NetGalley for sending me an ARC of Counting Wolves! And to the author, Michael F. Stewart, thank you for writing such a wonderful book. 

    “That fairy kid is intellectually disabled and is actually really nice, and sure people have been naked, and they do help people here who try to commit suicide or are thinking about that, but that’s better than having it happen, right? Listen, I’m one of these people.”

    About the Author:

    Michael is an award winning author who lives in Ottawa, Canada. His graphic novels, novels , and early readers have been published by Rubicon Publishing and distributed by Pearson Education, Scholastic, and Oxford University Press. To learn more about Michael and his projects, visit his website at

    If you like this review, please give it a thumbs up 👍 to let me know and comment down below 👇  your favorite book with a mental health theme.

    Cheers to more books! 😄📚❤



    2 thoughts on “Book Review: Counting Wolves by Michael F. Stewart”

    Leave a Reply