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The Wolves in the Walls

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Lucy hears sneaking, creeping,
crumpling noises
coming from inside
the walls.

She is sure there are
wolves living in
the walls
of her house.

But, as everybody says, if the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over.

56 pages, Paperback

First published August 5, 2003

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Neil Gaiman

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5 stars
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,317 reviews
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
962 reviews6,805 followers
July 26, 2023
The imagination is an ideal place for fear to take root, but what if the things you fear turn out to be real. And what if nobody believes you? Such is the dilemma for Lucy in Neil Gaiman’s lovely picture book, The Wolves in the Walls, when an old saying that ‘When the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over’ starts to become an impending threat. As a kid I always had a very active imagination and enjoyed adventuring in my mind with imaginary friends (a talking dinosaur was part of my crew) to conquer monsters (they lived in the trees and only could move in shadows), so when Lucy and her friend Pig-Puppet begin hearing wolves lurking, I was transported right back to those feelings of childhood awe where your own imagination can tip you towards terror. This book is brilliantly illustrated by Dave McKean with a combination of hand-drawn art, photographs and computer graphics that captures the aura of imagination with both a playfulness and unsettling atmosphere. It is an eerie tale about confronting your fears but also explores ideas around the frustration of not being believed and the stories and phrases that we pass along without even knowing why. Cute, and creepy you’ll have a lot of fun when…
...the wolves came out of the walls

Inspired by a nightmare his then 4 year old daughter had, Gaiman nails this horror story for kids. I find Neil Gaiman to be at his strongest when approaching dark fairy tales that are aimed for children but are equally enjoyable as adults, and his picture book Wolves in the Walls is a perfect example. It is pure imagination expressed in picture book form, being both whimsical and frightening and written in a way that feels like an old fairy tale you think you should already know. The repetition of things in threes—a classic fairy tale device—the lurking threats, the playfulness of words all pull you along in this story that is full of fun twists and surprises. It feels like a modern classic in a way, especially as it has been adapted multiple times including a musical stage production where Neil Gaiman provided some of the lyrics.
Stage adaptations: Puppet adaptation by Toby Olié (top) and National Theater of Scotland (bottom)

It also has been adapted into an interactive movie where, as Lucy’s imaginary friend in addition to Pig-Puppet, you can help her find clues and battle the wolves. This story just inspires creativity and fun.
The interactive version available for VR headsets

One aspect that I really enjoyed was the way stories shape our understanding of reality. Throughout the book nobody believes Lucy but continuously quotes an old saying about when the wolves come out, it’s all over. Yet nobody has a good answer to when Lucy asks “who” says that, why or what “it” means. I had a teacher in high school who, whenever someone would say something to the effect of “well they say that…”, would ask “who is ‘they’?” It was a good reminder to question why something has been decided as a truth and stop and consider what it all really means. It also makes me think about old sayings we use without really knowing the etymology (just the other day I looked up why the old saying “from soup to nuts” exists when a patron used it) and how that is a form of myth making in a way. It’s used quite effectively here and instantly embeds you into what feels like a pre-established tale despite it being a Gaiman original.

I just love the art in this too. It does seem a bit dated with obviously older computer graphics elements but in a way I feel it almost adds to the story, aging it like a fine wine and enhancing the feeling this is an old tale passed down. It also manages to be cute while simultaneously disquieting, having a bit of an uncanny valley anxiety emitting from it as well as feeling like creepy puppets at times. I like how well it contrasts with the more cartoonish wolves, which plays into the theme of facing your fears and discovering they aren’t all that terrifying (and might be even more scared of you).

Overall, this is lovely. Clearly a story for children but it warms my adult heart and transports you into its childlike magic. I’ve always wanted to like Gaiman more than I end up actually enjoying some of his work, but I’ve found his work geared towards children hits high marks.
Profile Image for Airiz.
248 reviews108 followers
July 12, 2011
Am I the only one who thought this is a mishmash of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls” and the classic wolf-riddled admonitory bedtime stories like “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”? The Wolves in the Walls, a collab work by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, is yet another landmark tale that speaks directly to young readers while teaching a few lessons like open communication in the family.

SPOILER-ISH! Basically the story revolves around Lucy (aka the girl who cried wolf), who tells her family about the wolves lurking behind the wallpapers. Her relatives however dismissed her fears as a product of her overactive imagination, and they are actually too engrossed into their own worlds to deal with Lucy: her mother (like any mother) is a personification of domestic order, her oblivious father plays tuba, and her annoying brother plays video games. Nobody believes her…until the wolves do plunge out of the walls, invading the house and rendering the family homeless. Lucy is the one who acts to glue the family together. With a Coralinesque bravery and a simple strategy, she goes back to save her stranded toy, Pig Puppet, and in the process they are able to get their house back.

The characters—at least in the part of the relatives—are reminiscent of the people in The Day I Swapped my Dad with Two Goldfish. The hardnosed heroine reminds me of Coraline, though there are numerous differences between them. It’s a pretty rad read all in all, though of course I’ll appreciate it more if I’m a kid. :p With Lucy hearing those noises, I imagine it striking a chord with a lot of kids, since the very scene embody common fears of a child. There are significant lessons embedded in the storyline as well, making the story weightier.

I’ve learned that this tale is conceived with help from the kids of the Gaiman and McKean. Maddy Gaiman has a nightmare of wolves scratching the walls of their house. Gaiman helped Maddy cope with this fear by storytelling, making strategies to escape from the wolves or something like that—and these plotting became a part of the story. Liam McKean does only a little contribution though, and this is the image of the Pig Puppet. :p I think it’s quite adorable, how they pieced together things from real kids and create something that kids can appreciate. :)
Profile Image for Anne.
4,053 reviews69.5k followers
August 26, 2023
My kids really liked it.


My eight year old son read it and thought it was good. He thought the illustrations were cool because the people had "spooky" eyes. I read it to my six year old son and my four year old daughter, and they liked it also. My I-don't-like-books little girl actually made me read it to her twice.


Her only complaint was that the wolves were just regular old wolves and not werewolves. Go figure.
I think some younger kids might find the story a little bit scary, so be careful if your kids spook easily.
Profile Image for Amin Matin.
297 reviews52 followers
July 2, 2023
اگه روزی بچه‌ای داشتم قطعاً کتاب‌های گیمن رو براش میخوندم، عمق جادویی و حسی که کتاب‌های کودک گیمن دارن واقعاً شگفت‌انگیزه
Profile Image for Trish.
2,015 reviews3,433 followers
October 5, 2022
I had the idea of reading this when my buddy-reader made me read the Lovecraft story with a very similar title. After I had written my review for that one, a friend even suggested, I needed to read this, too, so here we are. :)

Lucy is a young girl who starts hearing creepy noises in the walls. But while everyone keeps telling her that everything will be over should the wolves ever come out of the walls, they refuse to believe that there actually are wolves in the walls ... until one day, when the wolves do get out. But that is only half the story, of course.

Dave McKean's art isn't for everyone and I only like it on occasion (it depends on the story the art goes with). It sometimes worked here, in my opinion, though not always. But judge for yourselves:

The fascinating bit about this story is that it appears unassuming at first. Light, almost even. But it grows and warps into something else, something unsettling. Typical Gaiman.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,397 followers
March 20, 2021
It's the art and the illustration that will actually creep you out. Like a damn nightmare you cannot come out of. They are gory. Not the black and white or blood red gory but gory.

Story, plot and the characters do not do much. But nevertheless a unique book.
Profile Image for JohnnyBear.
172 reviews12 followers
February 8, 2022
9 out of 10

This book is about a girl named Lucy who lives with her mother and father and her little brother, but one day she hears some scratching on the walls. Lucy immediately assumes that there are wolves living in the walls, but her family reassures her that that would be unlikely. Lucy turns to her longtime pig puppet for comfort as the scratching noises in the wall become louder and louder. Until one day...

Chase Scene

What an absolutely splendid children's book. I loved the creepy and quickly drawn artstyle presented in the book, and all of the mixed media made it really stand out in midst of the many other children's books I've read, which are all polished and clean. The characters, the artwork, and the writing by Neil Gaiman all give off a really creepy vibe that I think a child would appreciate, especially if your child is more interested in scarier stories. I definitely would recommend it.

Book Cover Art
Profile Image for 0r2b80.
166 reviews28 followers
March 27, 2023
گرگ های توی دیوار کتاب جالب و کوتاهی بود که در یک نشست خوندم و من رو یاد کورالین انداخت کمی .
گرچه در نظرم اون طنز ریز ماجرا با ترجمه شدن از بین رفته بود و شاید خوندن زبان اصلیش انتخاب بهتری باشه.
و در ضمن به نظر من کار با دیجیتالی خوندنش هم راه میوفته و نیازی نیست که حتما چاپی خونده بشه ( لاقل از نظر من )
ارت استایل قطعا محبوب من نبود ولی در مجموع دوستش داشتم
یک بخش از کتاب بود که خانواده داشتن پیشنهاد میدادن که برن و یک جای دیگه زندگی کنند و پیشنهاداتشون چیزایی شبیه رفتن به قطب شمال و کندوی زنبور عسل بود و بعد شخصیت اصلی برگشت و گفت بیاید بریم تو خونه ی خودمون زندگی کنیم و همه خانواده طوری رفتار کردن انگار اونه که حرف غیر منطقی زده.😂
Profile Image for Abdollah zarei.
175 reviews58 followers
September 29, 2017
جذاب ترین چیزش برام تصویرگری وهم آلود بود. یه داستان برای کودکانِ بزرگسال یا شاید هم بزرگسالانِ کودک
Profile Image for Sommer.
53 reviews4 followers
January 28, 2008
Haha, ok - the below review is one I wrote on Amazon.com in October of 2003. A review, I might add, that was found to be useful by 9 out of 9 Amazon members. Wow, I know, wow...

I recently read this book outloud to my cousin and he LOVED it! The book is so intuitive and allows so much expression and voice intonation. The characters are distinct individuals and I could instantly find their voice. The art is simply amazing - I've been a fan of McKean for years. I really don't think kids should be underestimated in their intelligence to appreciate the interesting art that mixes striking artwork and snippits of pictures of real-life objects. There is more to the artwork than that, but that's another review.

Some may think this book will frighten children, but it seems more like a healthy lesson in showing how silly such fear can be. The book is more about defeating fear, as the family was able to get rid of the wolves so easily. In the end the things that seem so scary (monsters under the bed, etc) are silly things that can be defeated with a simple look. And it doesn't hurt that this book is written cleverly and with wonderful style.

I could go on and on about this book, but I will just sum up by saying: art is great, writing is great, story is fun and interesting and great for dramatic outloud readings, and the story is an excellent lesson in the silliness of childhood fears.
Profile Image for Ajeje Brazov.
724 reviews
July 4, 2018
Una favoletta dark simpatica, surreale, ironica. I disegni sono davvero particolari, un collage di vari stili, chiamiamole delle tavole "rappezzate", originali e fuori dell'ordinario. La storia è molto semplice, ma scritta con stile coinvolgente e appassionante!
Il mio "personaggio" preferito? Il maialino di pezza!
Profile Image for Astiazh.
171 reviews35 followers
September 1, 2019
یه کتاب خوب با امتیاز ۵ لاک پشت پرنده که به من باشه تمامش رو تقدیم میکنم به تصویرگر کار درستش،جناب دیو مک کین.
لوسی دختر کوچک خانواده ادعا میکنه که در دیوارهای خانه گرگ زندگی می کند آخه صدای آنها را شنیده بالاخره این مسئله بر خانواده هم روشن میشود و خروج گرگها آنها را فراری می دهد اما لوسی تصمیم دارد بماند و بجنگد با آنها...
من کتاب رو برای دختر شش سالم خوندم خیلی خوشش اومد شاید چون فضای تخیلی قویی داشت و خب شخصیت اصلی هم دختر کوچولویی بود.
اما راستش من همچین موضوعاتی رو همچنان برای قبل از خواب پیشنهاد نمی کنم.
کتاب هم از انتشارات پریان است.
Profile Image for catherine ♡.
1,211 reviews160 followers
August 4, 2017
I'm sure this would've been spookier if I had the images (I listened to it), but nevertheless it had the same delightful bedtime story vibe to it.
Profile Image for Robert.
817 reviews44 followers
June 19, 2013
This is a great story about parents not listening to their daughter and said daughter saving their home. It also has wolves...in the walls! It comes with a CD of Gaiman reading the story aloud, which I haven't heard yet...but if the readings from The Ocean at the End of the Lane I heard him give last week are anything to go by, it should be excellent. It is just the kind of story that should be read aloud, too, full of the rhythms and repeated refrains that fit with oral story telling.

McKean's illustrations are not readily described, which is a good thing because that means they are not cliched or boring. They seem to be some kind of digital fusion of photographic and painted elements that create a sort of collage effect I've not really seen before. They are very evocative of mood and are just as excellent as the story, which makes a doubly excellent book, overall.

Great stuff.
Profile Image for Nikoo.
53 reviews25 followers
November 15, 2021
Seems you don't have "impossible" in your dictionary, Neil :')
Profile Image for Katsumi.
628 reviews
March 9, 2010
The Wolves in the Walls is a story about Lucy and her family, and how they have wolves living in their walls - or at least that's what Lucy thinks. She hears scratching and nibbling in the walls and is convinced that the noises are coming from the wolves. But everyone that Lucy tells (her mom, dad and brother,) dismisses her concerns with more believable explanations. Little do they know, Lucy isn't that far-fetched...

The illustrations of this book are magnificent and amazing, making the entire book a work of art. Interestingly, the wolves are cartoon, although their eyes, peering out of the walls, are photorealistic. Many of the illustrations look as though they have been sketched straight onto handmade paper, while others look as though they have been digitally altered. You could spend hours just taking in each intricate image.

While this bizarre tale is certainly one worth reading, it's the artwork that really carries the book.

I just love the piggy puppet!!!!
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,174 reviews187 followers
June 30, 2020
Lucy warns her parents and little brother that there are wolves in the walls of their house, but they each insist that the noise she is hearing is made by mice, rats, or bats. Then the wolves come out of the walls, and it is all over. Or is it? Fortunately, Lucy has to return to get her beloved pig-puppet and, at her prompting, her family also return. Now they are living in the walls...

One of a number of children's book collaborations between author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Dave McKean - other titles include Coraline , The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish and Crazy Hair - The Wolves in the Walls features an engrossing and somewhat creepy story, and mixed media artwork that perfectly captures the atmospheric thrills of Gaiman's text. I really enjoyed this one, and (as always) appreciated Gaiman's understated sense of humor. The text here is quite extensive for a picture-book, making this more of an illustrated short story, so I'd recommend this one more to middle-grade readers, than to the younger children who usually consume picture-books. Needless to say, I'd also recommend it to Gaiman and McKean fans.
Profile Image for Ronyell.
956 reviews320 followers
April 7, 2010
Dave McKean’s illustrations are both haunting and hilarious at the same time. The wolves are portrayed as drawings made by a child, as it is implied on the front cover of the book. The wolves are also drawn in both a frightening and humorous way throughout the book. A great example of an image where the wolves display both terror and humor is in the image of the wolves being shown in creepy shadows as they are watching television and are laughing their heads off. Another advantage that this book has is the heroine Lucy. Lucy knew that trouble was about to begin and tries to warn her family of the danger of staying in the house, even though her family do not believe her at first. Then, when the family is in danger of moving away, Lucy has the courage to save their house from the wolves, despite her family’s objections, making her the heroine of the story.

“The Wolves in the Walls” have creative and scary illustrations by Dave McKean and have a strong heroine in Lucy, who saved her family from the wolves. However, the story falls flat on the scare factor as the wolves are only perceived as the usual unwelcome guests in the family’s home and the story is slow-paced as it took time for the family to decide to rush back to their home. If you want a story that is both action-packed and scary, then read Neil Gaiman’s other books such as, “Coraline” and “The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.”

From my Epinions review:
Profile Image for I.Shayan.
202 reviews
October 28, 2017
دوس داشتنی و جذاب ولی خوب چون مال کودکان بود به اندازه ی نوشته های دیگه نیل گیمن عمق نداشت و چند لایه نبود
با این حال بهترین نقطه کتاب که مثلما بزگا هم میتونن لذت ببرت تصویر سازی متفاوت و فوق العاده عجیب و جذابش بود
Profile Image for Cori Reed.
1,135 reviews377 followers
September 4, 2018
This was super creepy, but very enjoyable! If your little is easily scared be warned!
Profile Image for Sara Williams.
278 reviews797 followers
November 14, 2015

Soooo adorable! Once again, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean combined their skills and created a lovely little illustrated book with a satisfatory plot. The illustrations are incredible, even though I'm not the biggest fan of this art style.
This is the story of a little girl who starts hearing Wolves inside the walls of her house, but no one seems to believe her, until the wolves invade therir home. Of course, parents never listen to their children.
I certainly enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Tanja.
261 reviews17 followers
January 18, 2021
I usually love Neil Gaiman’s books, but this one did not do it for me.
All the elements are there, an odd little book with the perfect amount of scary and funny, but there was just something missing. It felt too familiar.
It might be Dave McKean’s artwork, which is, in fact, the creepiest thing in the book, but it looked way too similar to Coraline. Or it might be that the story itself resembled Coraline (which I read first), so this felt like déjà vu.
Profile Image for Rahma.
266 reviews77 followers
December 4, 2018
I don’t think I get the point of this story, hence why I’m not giving it any rating.
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