The Wolf Gift

Posted On 12 April 2012

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Just finished reading The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice.  This is the first Anne Rice novel that I have picked up.  I was quite keen to pick up her Interview with a Vampire novels but as this was newly released I thought I’d give it a go first.  Obviously, therefore, I have no way of comparing this to previous novels and can’t say whether it is better or not or whether it maintains the same style.  What I will say though, and it’s a surprise given the amount of paranormal books currently on the market, is that Ms Rice manages to give the werewolf mythology a new twist which I thought was quite an achievement.

I’m not going to go overboard on the plot because I don’t want to give away spoilers so I’ll just give a bit of an introduction.  The story opens with Reuben (the main protagonist).  Reuben comes from a fairly affluent family.  His mother is a successful surgeon, his father a writer/poet and his brother is a priest.  Reuben is the youngest (and most handsome) and has such as been ‘babied’ a little.  He takes after his father in his more romantic and poetic nature and loves to write and philosophise.  He has fallen into a journalistic role working on a fairly small-town newspaper where his distinctive voice has earned him already a steady audience and he is determined to prove himself as more than a pretty face.  Reuben has been asked to interview Margent and the start of the story brings the two of them together touring a magnificent country home which Margent has recently inherited. Margent, in spite of her deep emotional attachments, is keen to sell the place as basically it is very remote and situated atop cliffs overlooking the sea with a private redwood forest to the rear.  I thought the first few chapters of this were great.  The writing is quite simply lovely to read, descriptions of the grounds, the house, the forest and even the former inhabitant, Margent’s long lost uncle who was something of an explorer who went missing over 20 years previously.  The house is really quite amazing and the poetic and philosophical side of Reuben instantly falls for the place, for Margent and even for her long lost uncle.  I couldn’t help being transported back to Manderley reading this element of the story.  The writing put me very much in mind of Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca – although maybe not quite as brooding.  I will mention though that there is no dramatic action up to this point.  It’s a beautiful read but not pacey or action packed so if you’re looking for a bit more of a slasher story then you need to bear this in mind and practice some patience (or don’t pick up if you don’t have patience to practice!)

That being said the story does then change.  Reuben is attacked and I’m not going to go into too much more about the plot other than to say following this attack Reuben starts to change (and clearly he becomes a wolf man – there, I’ve said it! But as it’s called The Wolf Gift I don’t think I’m giving too much away about this story).

Following this there is a lot more action involved as Reuben comes to terms with the changes he’s experiencing.  There are a number of scenes where Reuben’s inner beast takes over which involve fairly bloodthirsty attacks.  There’s also something of a love story going on and on top of that there is a little bit of mystery thrown in.  I wouldn’t call this a YA book, maybe it would cross over for the older market but there are a few scenes of violence and a bit of sexual content also (although this couldn’t be called either a bloodbath or a bodice ripper, just saying).

What I liked about this book was the different take.  I suppose for me this book does for werewolves what Kostova’s Historian did for Vampires – makes them a bit more grown up and sophisticated.  There are lots of references to famous names and places and you can’t chuck a stick without someone philosophising about something.  I also liked the different take on the beast itself.  Reuben learns to control his inner beast and isn’t at it’s mercy – it blows the ‘full moon’ theory out of the water as well and even though it has it’s share of dramatic scenes this is more of an intelligent read along.

In terms of criticisms – I think I did wane a little in the middle of the story.  I found the love story element a bit rushed.  I thought that the characters seemed a bit old fashioned and could do with dragging into this century – or at least a century that’s a bit closer than whatever century they’re in – for example, what the hell is Reuben doing wearing a turtle neck sweater – he’s, like 25 – so, that would be no.  And, finally, there’s quite a lot of info dumping towards the end which is being passed off as dialogue – I never end up thinking that that works out very well.  It makes the conversation really clunky and basically nobody talks like that!  Oh, and I think it lost a bit of an opportunity to be REALLY spooky – remote house, forest setting, dark nights, branches tapping on the glass, feeling eyes watching you – I think it should have been more creepy and brooding.

So having had a little rant I can now go back to admitting that I did enjoy this.  I appreciated the writing style, I liked the almost fairytale element at one point in the tale (basically the introduction of the love interest – and, again, no spoilers, but I’m thinking ‘Little Red Riding Hood’), I also really enjoyed that you could stop reading at this point.  There are a couple of outstanding issues but I think this novel is fairly complete and could work as a stand alone.  I don’t know for sure but I imagine this will be a series – it certainly seems to be set up perfectly now for future adventures.

I didn’t adore it but I definitely enjoyed it and I will continue if another book is published.  And, it didn’t change my mind about reading the Vampire Chronicles.

I’m submitting this story for my Once Upon a Time challenge (this is a challenge that isn’t a challenge) that is currently being hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.  Stop on by using this link – it is packed with goodies about fairytales, folklore, myth and fantasy.

The Wolf Gift

The Wolf Gift

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23 Responses to “The Wolf Gift”

  1. Grace

    I came very close to requesting this on Netgalley a while back. I’m very impressed by her writing style, but at the same time I’m ambivalent on much of her subject matter. I may end up deciding to give this one a shot.

    • lynnsbooks

      I still fancy reading the Chronicles and I will pick up the next one (assuming there is one!) but it is a bit winding in parts. I like the way she writes but I think it could have been edited better in parts!
      Lynn 😀

      • Grace

        I read Interview and liked the writing, but the vampires were a bit emo for my taste. I heard that they’re less emo in the second book though, so I picked it up for RIP or whenever I decide to read it. 😀

        Also, I saw that you mentioned Kostova. Have you read her other book “The Swan Thieves” yet? I loved “The Historian” and am curious as to whether Swan Thieves is as good.

      • lynnsbooks

        Emo vampires! Ha ha. I really enjoyed the Historian – to be frank it probably could have been trimmed a bit here or there although I didn’t mind the length = I read it on holiday and loved it, the whole weight of the book, the style of writing, the descriptions of the places (Budapest), the creepy bits. Very enjoyable overall. I haven’t read the Swan Thieves – I wasn’t sure if I fancied the sound of it but was tempted because of her writing style BUT I went and checked out a few negative reviews and it put me off. I should have just taken a look for myself but …. too late!!
        Lynn 😀

      • TBM

        I have a copy of The Historian. Should I consider adding it to my RIP pile?

      • lynnsbooks

        Yes, definitely consider reading it – particularly if you like a considered read – this definitely isn’t pacy! But I really got into it (okay, if I’m going to be honest I could see that maybe it could have been cut a bit in the middle, but it didn’t spoil it for me). I loved the places described and it definitely had a few creepy moments but it’s more sophisticated. Somebody I knew described it as Vampire Librarians – which is not true! But made me laugh.
        You should give it a go, the writing is good. Don’t know about the next novel she wrote I never picked it up and I confess I got distracted by a couple of bad reviews I read 😦 Shouldn’t let them get to me!!!

        Lynn 😀

      • Grace

        @TBM – Definitely. It’s a historical-treasure-hunt novel about Dracula, and I enjoyed it a lot. It broke away from what you’d typically expect a vampire novel to be like.

      • TBM

        Thanks guys. I’ll add it to my list and if I don’t get to it this year, there is always next year. Lynn–I feel that some of Rice’s novels could be cut in the middle as well. Maybe going on a bit is part of this genre 🙂 And Grace is right, some of the Vampires in Interview are a little over the top with their feelings. But I kinda liked that aspect. It humanized the non-human for me. But they aren’t as emo as Edward 🙂 Grace, did you read or see Twilight? I would love to hear your comparison.

      • lynnsbooks

        Well, I’m going to just go out on a limb now and admit that I read all the Twilight books!! I know everybody seems to be anti-Twilight these days, but I actually really enjoyed them (probably shouldn’t admit to that, right?). But, I did, and I couldn’t read them fast enough – until we got to Breaking Dawn which was a bit of a travesty. Okay, the author can write what she wants – it’s her book after all, but it felt a litle bit as though somebody else had written it – all the feeling between Edward and Bella just simply disappeared – they were like a different couple (or maybe she’s trying to suggest that after you get married you change!). Maybe Ms Meyers was Body Swapped and an alien Stephenie Meyers is now walking round in her place! Perhaps that’s why she hasn’t written anything since!! Edward was definitely very emo – in fact the combination of him and Bella together was sometimes enough to just make you groan out loud!
        Lynn 😀

      • TBM

        I guess I should warn others that there are some spoilers in this comment about the Twilight and Harry Potter series.

        Hi Lynn. You aren’t alone. I read all the books as well and really enjoyed them until the last one. I felt like she was trying to make everyone happy and have a great feeling for all of the characters. And she went about it in a cheesy way. It just seemed odd that everyone survived pretty much unscathed and in love with someone.

        In the Harry Potter books I was sad about some of the fates of the main characters, but it added a lot more drama and intensity. I felt that Breaking Dawn was a wimpy way of ending the series.

      • lynnsbooks

        More spoilers…..
        Yeah, the ending was a bit twee. And, not only that it was a bit irritating the way Bella became the ‘best’ vampire everyone and protected the entire assembled group with a huge invisible bubble – what was the point of assembling all these vampires with different abilities (which took on a bit of an x-men feel at this point I felt) if Bella was then just going to be able to protect them all? Might as well have just left if with the Cullens against the Volturi.
        Harry Potter was more realistic by far – I couldn’t believe one of the twins died and, bad enough about Dumbledore, – but Dobby! Why, cruel world, why? But spot on in that everyone can’t survive.
        Lynn 😀

      • TBM

        More spoilers folks:

        Bella’s bubble power was just too silly for me. It was like she couldn’t think of anything else and then in the middle of the night she was like “Oh a bubble will work.” What?! I loved Harry Potter, But I will admit that I cried when Dobby and Dumbledore died. The twin was sad, but not as sad as Dobby.

      • lynnsbooks

        Tee hee, Bella’s bubble – that’s a keeper!
        Lynn 😀

  2. Booky Pony

    I’m absolutely itching to get my hand on this. I started reading Rice in high school, and got through six of the Vampire Chronicles books before giving up (although I’m now thinking of continuing from where I left off). I really, really liked them, particularly the three first ones, and it’s a relief to hear this one is not as bad as some people have been saying! Because werewolves are cool. 😀

    But yeah, I definitely recommend the Vampire Chronicles! The first ones are interesting not only for the story and Rice’s take on vampires but for the historical aspect – I know she does a fair deal of research and that makes you feel safe. 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      I wouldn’t say I loved this – but mainly because of a few little criticisms that make it not quite perfect – but I do like her writing style and I will definitely pick up the Chronicles. I’d be interested to know what you think if you do pick it up. I have to hold my hands up to her for coming up with a fairly original take.
      Lynn 😀

  3. TBM

    I haven’t read this Rice novel, but I absolutely loved her novel, The Witching Hour. That’s a great book. I will admit that she could trim parts of it since it rambles at points, but I still loved it. I plan on reading Interview this year for RIP. I want to pick up a copy of this, but I probably should wait until I finish the vampire series.

    • lynnsbooks

      I picked the Wolf Gift up for exactly the same reason – because I hadn’t picked up any of the vampire ones yet! The funny thing is I did have criticisms with the book but I did like the writing style.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Aunt Amelia

    I read one of Anne Rice’s Vampire novels. Only one. And a long time ago. Way before ‘Twilight’ and etc. ,-)

    But then, didn’t she “get religion”? And write religious kind of books for a while? Ugh… Thought I read that….. Anyway… if she’s on to wolves, that sounds good. -grin-

    Love the atmospheric sound of the early part of it. Yummy… 🙂

  5. lynnsbooks

    Well, I wasn’t aware of the religious books – but now you’ve said that a lot of the ‘philosophising’ (is that even spelt correctly?) she does actually rings a bell. She can go on a bit about that! I like the Wolf Men – although there were parts that…. well don’t want to spoilery it for anyone. But, I did like the writing style, I think she could have cut a few bits here and there and I think a bit more ‘spookiness’ could have been added.

    I’ve heard a number of people really like the witch novel so maybe I’ll check that out although I do fancy the Chronicles.

    Keep welll.

    Hugs

    Lynn 😀

  6. Aunt Amelia

    Oh and, perhaps, I read a Witch one. Although I think there were BOTH Witches and Vampires, in the one I read. Hmmmmmm… Sorry but don’t remember the name.

    But naturally, you’ll read them in order.

    Honestly, I don’t seem drawn to any LONG books any more. Or I should probably say, I have not found a totally enthralling long book, in a while. That’s probably more like it.

    Happy Spring!!!

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