The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice
|The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A good modern look at a werewolf, reflecting on vigilantism, comic book heroes, and all that's gone before, but making the character type a fresh one.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: February 2012|
|Publisher: Chatto and Windus|
Reuben is on the up, make no mistake about it. He will turn from a good journalist to a great journalist - it's just that most of his family, his girlfriend and his editor all patronise him with diminutive nicknames based on his boyish good looks. While staying at a secluded cliff-side mansion in the Californian forests, and researching the back-story of it being on the market for the first time in decades, he survives a bloody attack, and ends up with the house his. And, of course, he receives the Gift - and becomes a werewolf. What does this mean for him - and for others, and just what are the secrets remaining in the strange mansion?
It's great to report that Anne Rice, having redelivered vampires for a new generation, has turned her expert hand to werewolves, and has given us what we wanted, which was MORE. This being current day, she uses more science - the Gift is looked at by some characters as regards DNA and enzymes, etc. There's more theology, and a lot of subtle use of morals - you might think a new werewolf is a bad thing, but you haven't met the real monsters of this world. This being Anne Rice there's more romance, as this beast gets his beauty. And while Reuben struggles to work out the history of this Gift - and what it might mean for his future - we gets all this revealed with all the drama of a superior thriller.
For some reason chapter one struck me as like a poor draft - the dialogue didn't ring true, and the loops into back-story of how others treated Reuben were more like jolts. But put him in the house and get him bit and from then on it's top-notch. Rice gives you enough for you to successfully guess - the missing explorer isn't dead after all, etc - but a lot more we have to wait for her fine pacing to reveal. Even sixty pages from the end you will still have absolutely no way of knowing what the resolution of this story will be. (That's partly because the end section is an advert for follow-ons; a very literary sign there is more to this series to come, but an advert nonetheless.)
There are still reflections back to the past of were-lore, but the crux of this story being the reveal of Rice's new mythos is the treat for fans of this kind of fiction. It's certainly not a blood-curdling horror, and can at times seem a little cosy - even a little pat as all her characters are given the jobs they have so they mean something to Reuben's new life. But the mix of ancient and modern, familiar and inventive, and the fact that Rice easily drops in elements that other people would save for a quick sequel - all this proves there is MORE in this book. And ultimately that means more satisfaction.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
This features a Marrok character - the name crops up again in the series starting with Moon Called (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs, which is a recommendable package of urban fantasy.
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