Natasha’s life is emotionally blighted by this loss, as we see in chapters interspersed with the heart of the story which is of how Zoya survives in this fierce, cold and terrifying landscape where it is not just predators she has to fear. She makes it in the wild, mating with a wolf and raising two cubs, Misha and the radiation damaged Bratan and when she is finally killed in a battle with a lynx the story becomes theirs.

Brilliantly told, full of naturalistic details and completely nonanthropomorphic but entirely relatable descriptions of pack dynamics, attachments and characters, this is a totally gripping survival story. Dog lives run a shorter span and when, after 20 years have passed since she left, Natasha returns to the blighted area as a scientist studying radiation levels, it is a very elderly Misha that satisfyingly and credibly completes the circle of both story strands.

An unforgettable and moving novel that can genuinely stand up to comparisons with Call of the Wild and deserves similar classic status.

Author, Anthony McGowan, Illustrated by Keith Robinson

What the Shortlist Committee Say...

"In the aftermath of Chernobyl, a stunning tale of human and animal courage, resilience, and hope"