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 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 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 threatens 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 may be others like him who are watching—guardian creatures who have existed throughout time who 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.
I was originally going to publish this review on the date of the book’s release but I just couldn’t wait!
I have taken my time reading this book and really gave myself the opportunity to take it all in. Once I read the first twenty pages, I started thinking about how to best describe the feeling that this book gives you. The one word that keeps coming to mind just doesn’t do the feeling justice – romance. I’m not talking about the traditional thoughts that the word romance conjures (candlelit dinner for two at a street café in Paris or an elaborately planned proposal at the top of the Empire State Building). Bear with me while I try to explain.
The beginning of this book (by that I mean the first twenty pages) are flat-out awe inspiring. Our main character, Rueben Golding, has taken a trip to a beautiful estate in northern California to do a write up for the Observer because this almost palatial home is going up for sale. Legendary in its own right, the house stands in purposeful isolation. From the moment Rueben lays eyes on the property (dubbed Nideck Point) he is totally entranced by its beauty. Like a little boy seeing a train for the first time in person, he’s blown away. He sees this house with a child like innocence, seeing nothing but the wonder of the world wrapped in four walls. He goes into this deep, almost heartbreakingly beautiful description of this house. Everything about the place just screams of wonderful tragedy. He looks at the estate with such poetic reverence – the size, the craftsmanship, the history, the rich colors, the extravagant décor – as he’s day dreaming about what he would do with the place if he owned it. Of course, my favorite is the library. Just reading the description makes me feel the warmth of the fireplace and I can almost smell the ancient texts that line the shelves. Perfection. *wink wink*
Everything in his dreamy description is just on such an unbelievably grand scale. The first twenty pages of this book completely and totally set the stage for the feel of the characters and the story. More so than any other book I have ever read.
Then comes the Wolf Gift….and our dear Reuben’s whole world changes. Stuck in the middle of an emotionally draining moral dilemma, lost in his new grey area between right and wrong, Reuben is unsure if he’s a monster or a hero…or just monstrously heroic. Watching this character struggle on his own through all of the changes that are overtaking him, I found myself just wanting to reach into the book and give the poor guy a hug!! Reuben brings a whole new meaning to the word ‘vigilante’ and rather than abhorring him for it, you want to throw him a pep rally! Encourage him!! Be his cheerleader!!!
Let’s talk some technicalities:
This book has an amazing cast of characters. I’ve already expressed my adoration for Reuben. He’s fantastically written and makes me desperately wish that I viewed the world through his eyes. I believe that if everyone stopped to really see the beautiful things in life – allow the majestic to absolutely take our breath away – instead of focusing on all of the horrible and the negative, we would all live in a much better world. I envy Reuben’s ability to view things that way.
Felix is a man who has had the chance to travel the world and take in all it’s wonders. Judging by the contents of his home that he left behind, this is a man that has lead a genuinely rich existence. Again, with the envy. *wink wink* In his own way, he is very much like Reuben and I think that this is part of the reason that Reuben becomes so enamored with Nideck Point. Kindred spirits who would both be instantly taken with the estate.
Celeste is “good on paper”. She’s the ideal for a cookie-cutter perfect wife. She’s brilliant at what she does but she just doesn’t have the same star-filled eyes that Reuben does. (You’ll have to read the book to see where that leaves our lovers.)
Grace and Phil are Rueben’s parents. Phil is most definitely Reuben’s father. He’s a poet at heart and an artist to the bone. The interactions that these two characters have make me smile. While I was reading this book, every time Grace (Reuben’s mother) came into the picture, all I could picture was Ellis Grey. If any of you out there are Grey’s Anatomy fans, I am talking about Meredith Grey’s mom – the brilliant surgeon. Beautiful, intelligent, calculated and always looking for the science in things. Approaches everything with realism. She’s not a day dreamer and she’s not a romantic but these things don’t take away from the character. She shines bright in her own way.
Jim is Reuben’s brother and he’s just a sweetheart. He has his own struggle to deal with. However, it was a struggle that he took on willingly and I don’t believe that he regrets it for a moment. I admire that in him.
Of course, there is a big long list of characters that we could go over and they are all fabulous for very different reasons but I am afraid that I will leak too much info if I get into why I love each and every one of them. So I will stop there with the character gushing.
Now, what good would all of this be without some mystery to the tale? The Wolf Gift is very well woven with many different mysteries. The clues are there but written in such a way that you can’t simply guess what is going to happen half way through. Trust me. You think you have it all figured out at the mid-way point but you could not be more wrong. Just sit back with your coffee and your book and enjoy the ride. What a ride it is!
I had a little bit of trouble categorizing this book in my mind. When I told people what I was reading, I felt like it was an injustice to say that it is a “werewolf book”. The story of The Wolf Gift is so much more than that. The Wolf Gift has action & adventure (in the Indiana Jones sense of the word), love & romance, legend & myth, terror & fear, primal carnage, humor, and so much more.
Overall I give The Wolf Gift 5 incredibly enthusiastic stars! I can honestly say with a 100% clear conscience that there wasn’t a single thing that I disliked about this book. The Wolf Gift was just amazing and I will be re-reading it many times in my life, without a doubt. I am not positive if this is the beginning of a series (that will be in my upcoming interview with Anne) but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is. Although the story wrapped up nicely, there are some things left open that would most definitely work for a much-welcomed sequel in my eyes. I have my crossables crossed that we will be seeing more of Reuben.
Pre-Order Your Copy of The Wolf Gift From Amazon.com!
Click here for hardcover!
Click here for Kindle format!
Dont forget that Anne is doing a book tour to celebrate the release of The Wolf Gift. Click here to see the dates!
Also, my interview with Anne Rice will be coming on Feb 14th!
The time is the present.