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  • Writer's pictureRaelyn Teague

Meet the Characters of "The Wolf's Name": Mr. Richards

Hey readers! It's time to get a bit dark as Olive introduces another figure from her life: Mr. Richards.

June 14th, 1890

If Miss Kovacs haunted my nightmares so frequently as a girl, it was only because even my slumbering mind feared Jacob Richards too much to let him take space in my thoughts.

It’s difficult to believe he’s related to Mother Harrison. I don’t remember a time when he was anything but a callous and malicious villain, though even Matilda admits he used to be, in her words, “tolerable.”

My first memory of Richards that I haven’t successfully forgotten isn’t truly of him at all but of the smell of rotten apples. The Richards’ trees had always produced the sweetest apples in New Westminster, and Mrs. Richards knew the exact time to pluck them. She’d send Junior and the twins over the end of each August with a sack of unblemished, scarlet fruit, and Mother would thank them by sending Nathaniel back a few days later with a fresh apple pie.

But the summer Mrs. Richards and her unborn passed, Mr. Richards secluded himself in his house for months, a battle-weary king isolated in a fortress plagued by ghosts and gloom. Junior was much too young to care for the farm himself, and the apples didn’t get picked in time. When the boy came to our door alone, his arms wrapped around that familiar sack but his eyes unrecognizably brittle, there weren’t enough good apples left to make a pie. Mother had to make one out of sour apples from the general store.

By the time Richards finally came out of that house, he had allowed his sorrow to beget spite, and we never received a sack of apples from the family again.

It’s hard not to hate Richards for all his words and deeds. To say he’s dangerous would be to immeasurably understate what he became after those months locked away with his grief, to downplay the brutality that I evermore attributed to him, but I can’t help but wonder if he might have been saved if our world had been different. If a hero braver than I had helped him vanquish his ghosts before they’d destroyed the good left in him.

The loss of loved ones changes us. I’ve changed too many times, and if not for Matilda and Elliot to keep me on the right path, I might have stumbled off it long ago.

Maybe not as far off the path as Richards, but far enough I might never make it back.

The Wolf's Name is now available for preorder. Find out more here.

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