Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

Synopsis from
A daring new departure from the inspired creator of The Vampire Chronicles (“unrelentingly erotic. . . unforgettable.”), the Lives of the Mayfair Witches (“Anne Rice will live on through the ages of literature”), and the angels of The Songs of the Seraphim (“remarkable.”). A whole new world—modern, sleek, high-tech, and at its center, a story as old and compelling as history—the making of a werewolf, re-imagined and re-invented as only Anne Rice, teller of mesmerizing tales, conjurer extraordinaire of other realms, could create it.

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.

My review:
I've not read an Anne Rice book for years, since the Vampire Chronicles, so I was really looking forward to this one, and it did not disappoint. Although it was a werewolf book, it was more than that.

Other reviewers have stated how Reuben was a bit up himself, but I really liked him. He was a charming, good looking young man, with a bit of family money behind him. I mean he was 23 and drove a Porsche, but that does not necessarily mean he was self-conceited or selfish or anything else - he just had money. He did come from a fairly high achieving family, mother is a top surgeon, father is a poet (can't remember what he did before that though!), brother is a priest and gave up all his money for the priesthood and Reuben felt that he hadn't actually achieved much in his short life, so maybe he should have been a bit more grateful for his life, but still I liked him. He did cheat on his girlfriend quite early on in the book, but actually I didn't like Celeste from the beginning. She was always putting him down and making comments about his job as a reporter and I would have cheated on her too if I was him. I didn't think they were right for each other at all and as we found out later, she did the same to him too, so that makes them equal right?!

Anyway on to the actual story! Reuben goes out to visit Marchant, a middle-aged woman who has just inherited an absolutely huge, gorgeous old house up on a hill overlooking the sea at Nideck Point. I so wanted to go and visit this house - the descriptions of it were just amazing. Marchant had inherited this house from her uncle, an explorer who had been missing for years, now presumed dead. She was selling the house and wanted Reuben to write a newspaper article on it to generate some interest. However that interest all changed when she was killed, by her jealous brothers no less and consequently Reuben was saved by a man wolf. This "saving" changed Reuben - he gained the wolf gift and soon found he could change into a humanoid wolf type creature. This story basically told of his journey through the development of his gift, how he used it to protect those in need and how he finally came to accept it. There wasn't such much of a single story plot, typical bad guy, good guy stuff, although there were some bad guys and some good guys.

I loved this new twist on the legend of the werewolf in that they were not full shapeshifters, but rather a half human - half wolf who still maintained his human conscience when in wolf form, could talk and have wolf/human sex, which did creep me out a bit. These ones, Morphenkind, could sense evil and hear voices crying for help from miles away and Reuben managed to save those in need several times. However as usually happens with vigilantes, he was glorified to superhero status by some and hunted by others, including some "doctors", who had a major part to play in Marchant's uncle's disappearance.

Without giving too much away, Reuben meets other Morphenkinder, one of whom explains the history of their kind, being the first one to transform and I totally loved this myth building. I want another book just on this first one of their kind.

Laura, the love interest after the fiancée Celeste, I thought was a bit weird. She liked sex with the Man Wolf in wolf form for starters! She seemed to completely accept Reuben for who he was very easily, despite knowing that he has killed people, ok not innocent people, but still he has killed. She moved in with him in the blink of an eye and seemed to have no real personality that came through the book. I just thought she was a bit drab, but maybe that is the balance that was needed between Reuben and herself. And I think she's the main reason I didn't give this book a 5 star rating - she didn't enthral me much at all. In fact I didn't really care what happened to her at all.

I thought this book was really good. Love the fact that Anne Rice is back on the writing scene as it were with a fantastic new story and hopefully new series! Can't wait to find out if there is going to be a sequel.

Thank you to the publishers and author for allowing me to receive and review this book honestly through NetGalley.