Saturday, August 9, 2014

"The Wolf Gift (The Wolf Gift Chronicles #1)" by Anne Rice

From Goodreads
Minor confession: I have never read an Anne Rice book before this one. And I do have Interview with the Vampire in my pile of books to read. I just saw this one languishing on my Kindle's carousel and was forced to read it.

When I finished this book, I perused the reviews on Goodreads, and found myself in the minority- people who rated this four stars or higher were few and far between on the highly "liked" reviews. Whenever I find myself in such a place, I always reassess my gut feelings: Did this book feel sexist? Did this book feel racist? Was I, at any time, repulsed by something in this book?

The answers? No, no, and no. Nothing turned me off about this book, even parts where there was some serious weirdness going on. If anything, I was fascinated by it. Having never read anything written Anne Rice, this book really told me what I needed to know: she has excellent world-building and mythology skills, as well as a taste for poetry in plain writing, more commonly known as prose.

The Plot:
Young reporter Ruben goes up to a house on the California Mendocino coast to interview it's owner, Marchent Nideck, and take pictures for his paper. He ends up staying the night, and awakens to hear a scream and rushes (too late) to Marchent's rescue. He is accosted by a pair of brutes, only to hear a wolf snarl and attack them. He is left to die, but curiously enough, an ambulance arrives to revive him. But with an animal bite on his arm, he finds his life isn't quite like it used to be.

I've read a lot of paranormal books with werewolves, and I rarely feel that the author does justice to them. However, this one appears to be an exception- Anne Rice creates an ancient mythology as well as a modern explanation. These werewolves are ones I can respect- they aren't always what they seem, but they have a streak of wildness.

One major complaint I've heard with this book is that Reuben cheats on his girlfriend in the first part of it (which is why it isn't a spoiler). I feel no need to have characters pure as the driven snow. I like it when characters aren't saints, and are somewhat human. Cheating is despicable, but Reuben is a character, an ordinary character, and I'm okay with that.

Another major player in this book is not a character, but a place, much like in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, where Manderley takes on a life of its own. In this book, it's Nideck Point (which is what Ruben eventually dubs it), a mansion with secret rooms and passageways, as well as decaying archaeological relics left by Marchent's uncle. Nideck Point is a house I wouldn't mind occupying- it has acres of forest as well as an ocean view, and there are secrets hidden there waiting to be uncovered.

The Wolf Gift is hard to define in terms of genres and themes. On one hand, it is a contemporary story, but much of the true story takes place in the past. It really defies the labels I've tried to attach to it, so instead I'll give a specific recommendation. If you like poetry in writing, mythology, themes of good vs. evil (and even a little bit of in between), with a little romance thrown in for the hell of it, The Wolf Gift may be your cup of coffee.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for one of the few werewolf books I've really enjoyed.

Content: Sexual situations, violence, and an inexplicable urge to howl at the moon. Ages 18+

Page Count: 404 pages in the hardcover edition.

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