Sophie Smith is an orphan who was sent away to school by her guardian, Rosemary, as soon as she was old enough. Rosemary was a friend of Sophie’s mother, but she couldn’t care less about Sophie – she simply costs more than she’s worth – and goes off traveling while Sophie is away at school. Sophie gets her wish for something to change when a visitor arrives at Sophie’s school and, after going on a short tour, led by Sophie, asks the headmistress to allow Sophie to visit Saint Petersburg so as to help convince her daughter to go there. The headmistress agrees, but only if Sophie’s friends Delphine and Marianne (whom she believes will represent the school better than Sophie) go too. Except, Delphine forges Rosemary’s signature when she won’t allow Sophie to go – all the while insisting nothing ever goes wrong on a school trip! In Russia, they are abandoned on a train by their supposed guardian, and then dropped off at an old abandoned platform – the destination listed on their ticket. After spending time there in a hut with a warm fire and food, they are found by Ivan Ivanovich who says they had been sent for by Princess Anna Feodorovna Volkonskaya. He takes them back to the Volkonsky Winter Palace where they meet the princess who seems to be overly interested in Sophie and what she might know about the Volkonsky family.
Sophie is the stereotypical orphan who has an unwilling and neglectful guardian. Sophie doesn’t want to have to get in touch with Rosemary for any reason, she doesn’t have good clothes (her school sweater is full of holes), and the majority of her time is spent wishing for or dreaming about the life she could have had if her father was still alive. Though we never meet Sophie’s guardian, she is continually referenced to as being horribly cheap (when it comes to Sophie), and hoping someone else will be found to take care of her so she can get back to her life of traveling around the world without having to worry about anyone but herself.
At school, Sophie has two friends – and they also happen to be her roommates. Delphine is a half-French girl obsessed with her looks and the impression she makes, while Marianne is a school brainiac who focuses on her studies. From the moment Delphine and Marianne were introduced, I felt almost like I was reading a Harry Potter fanfiction where the trio is made up of all girls and, instead of being interested in sports, Ron is interested in fashion. You’ve got the orphan wishing for a better life, the don’t-care-about-said-orphan guardian, and two friends who are there for the orphan through everything, despite their drastically different personalities, a boarding school based in dreary London, and the synopsis promising a dangerous adventure. While it worked for the Harry Potter series, however, The Wolf Princess fell flat.
You can read the rest of my review at my blog: http://readerlymusings.com/2013/10/07/book-review-the-wolf-princess-by-cathryn-constable/