by Anne Rice
Series: The Wolf Gift Chronicles #1
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 is a best-selling American author of gothic, supernatural, historical, erotica, and religious-themed books. She is perhaps best known for her Vampire Chronicles. The Wolf Gift delves into the creation of werewolves and presents both philosophical and religious views and questions. The tale, which moved at a slow pace, was beautifully written but lacked the luster I was looking for. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed it; I just felt that overall it fell flat of my personal expectations.
Ruben, our protagonist, is the youngest son of a successful and educated family. He has attended college and has basically moved through life as “the pretty boy”. He dabbles as a writer and has contemplated writing a novel. His mother gets him a job at the San Francisco Observer. He has success there and is asked to do a piece about an old, historical home. On a weekend visit to the home, Reuben and the owner showing him the house are attacked by her wayward, greedy, brothers. A creature steps in to save them; savagely killing the brothers. The young woman dies, but Ruben miraculously survives. It is at the hospital where he begins to notice a change. His wounds are healing abnormally quickly; his blood work comes back showing high levels of hormones. His hair, hands, and feet are growing. The tale that unfolds is fascinating as Rueben begins to learn what is happening to him. The romance between Rueben and Laura; a young woman who has seen more tragedy in her lifetime than a soul should have to bear, is romantic and sweet. I found the sexual side of their relationship slightly creepy. I love Rice’s attention to detail and the way she blends history, science, and lore. She beautifully paints an image of the redwoods and the mansion by the sea. I would love to have coffee in the sunroom and enjoy evenings by the fire. The history she provides for the origin of this species is fascinating.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel and while I was captivated by the story, I never became so engrossed that everything else slipped away. It did not give me that rush of urgency to complete that so many books provide. Despite my mixed feelings, if Wolf Gift becomes a series, I will purchase book two. The Wolf Gift’s expected publication is February 14, 2012. It will be available in all formats.
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