Source: Received from Knopf in exchange for an honest review – Received no compensation
Series: The Wolf Gift Chronicles #1
Edition: eARC, 404 pages
Genre: Paranormal Horror
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
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The time is the present.
The place, the rugged coast of northern California. A bluff high above the Pacific. A grand mansion full of beauty and tantalizing history set against a towering redwood forest.
A young reporter on assignment from the San Francisco Observer. . . an older woman, welcoming him into her magnificent, historic family home that he has been sent to write about and that she must sell with some urgency . . . A chance encounter between two unlikely people . . . an idyllic night—shattered by horrific unimaginable violence. . .The young man inexplicably attacked—bitten—by a beast he cannot see in the rural darkness . . . A violent episode that sets in motion a terrifying yet seductive transformation as the young man, caught between ecstasy and horror, between embracing who he is evolving into and fearing who—what—he will become, soon experiences the thrill of the wolf gift.
As he resists the paradoxical pleasure and enthrallment of his wolfen savagery and delights in the power and (surprising) capacity for good, he is caught up in a strange and dangerous rescue and is desperately hunted as “the Man Wolf,” by authorities, the media and scientists (evidence of DNA threaten to reveal his dual existence). . . As a new and profound love enfolds him, questions emerge that propel him deeper into his mysterious new world: questions of why and how he has been given this gift; of its true nature and the curious but satisfying pull towards goodness; of the profound realization that there are others like him who may be watching—guardian creatures who have existed throughout time and may possess ancient secrets and alchemical knowledge and throughout it all, the search for salvation for a soul tormented by a new realm of temptations, and the fraught, exhilarating journey, still to come, of being and becoming, fully, both wolf and man.
Anne Rice’s novels have always been something of a comfort read for me. I would spend hours after hours reading her Vampire Chronicles in high school and college, so I jumped at the chance to read The Wolf Gift. Then life caught up and long story short I didn’t get around to read my arc until now…which is really unfortunate because this book was just what I needed.
The Wolf Gift is an interesting take on the werewolf mythos that includes a bit of romance, philosophy, action, horror, and friendship. In other words it’s very much an Anne Rice fantasy novel. Her world building is consistently detailed throughout. Someone who has read a Rice book would be able to pin-point her writing without looking at the cover, but for those who haven’t read anything from her the book is extremely detailed. By the end you’ll be able to picture the salads they eat, the buildings they visit and the people they meet. I’ll be honest if I’m not in the mood for her writing I hate it because it’s like walking into a really bright, loud, and smelly room…sensory overload. So I suggest going into any of her books and The Wolf Gift with that in mind.
I really enjoyed the characters for this one. Reuben is a lively young man who loves to write and live life to it’s fullest even if that means not being incredibly successful by others standards. He’s someone who isn’t afraid to look and think deeper and thanks to the werewolf aspect he has a completely different side bent on protecting the innocent. His relationship with Laura is really sweet and enduring, the one huge issues I had with it was their sexual relationship. It was slightly odd, but not surprising (I’ve read worse from Rice). The tiny issue I had was the insta-love that happens, but it doesn’t really shine through the plot so I forgive it. The huge cast of side characters are varied and interesting as well from Jim the brother priest to Celeste the bold lawyer. I enjoyed the amount of challenges and difficulties Reuben faces and I liked watching him try to overcome them.
The werewolf aspect is really fantastic as well. We get the eerily human like shape full of fur and odd angles, the strength, the speed, but we also get a really interesting origin and a great compulsion to protect the weak and innocent. It’s romanticized but at the same time it’s still monstrous.
The Wolf Gift is a very promising and strong beginning to a new series and I can not wait to get my hands on the second book!