1 out of 5 Stars
As a huge fan of fantasy in general, I thought it was a shame that I’d never read any of Anne Rice’s novels. I’ve been on a bit of a Beauty and the Beast kick lately, and the description of this book seemed to fit the bill. Figured I’d pick it up and give it a shot.
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.
I was horribly disappointed with this book and a little disgusted too. After reading the book description, I was expecting an exciting mystery, interesting werewolf lore, and maybe just a little romance. Instead, what I got was a rambling mess of seemingly unconnected events and several adulterous sexual sex scenes that toed the line with bestiality.
We follow the story of Reuben, a young journalist who also happens to be a rich kid with a supposedly “old soul”. He’s really more of a whiny, self-proclaimed poet, using flowery language to justify horrible choices. He’s entirely unlikable as a character. Within the first chapter, he cheats on his girlfriend (but don’t worry, it’s okay since she cheated on him once) and supposedly falls in love with an older woman who he then pines after the remainder of the book.
But in between all the saccharine pining and inflated internal interludes, Reuben is bitten by a strange creature and transforms into a werewolf. Besides increased strength and healing, he can also smell “evil”. Reuben decides to kill some so-called evil individuals and is heralded by local newspapers as a hero despite the fact that he tore several people limb from limb. The distinction in this book between good and evil was laughable at best, ignoring any possibility for shades of grey.
The book continued on is a series of seemingly unrelated events. Each scene by itself probably could have been developed into a semi-decent novella, but instead the stories were strung together with incomprehensible pseudo-poetic meandering that made the book three times longer than necessary (Honestly, who needs to have every dish in a meal described in detail, or know exactly what era every piece of furniture is from?). There was a sort of climax to the story, but then the book continued on for three more chapters, sort of petering out and destroying any hope for a true conclusion. Overall the plot line was disappointingly anti-climactic.
And maybe I’m a prude, but I found many of the sexual situations in the book somewhat disturbing. First, there’s the fact that Reuben cheats on his girlfriend with not one, but two women. He sleeps with the first woman after knowing her for several hours. With the second woman, he literally walks into her house in the middle of the night, as a complete stranger, and begins making love to her without even knowing who she is. And he just so happens to be in werewolf form at the time. The whole scenario was super icky, bordering on rape and bestiality. I also had to cringe every time the author used the word “orgasmic” to describe the werewolf transformation, especially when she compared Reuben’s growing muscles to an engorged penis. Super awkward and creepy.
If the book had any redeeming quality, it was the interesting new take on werewolf lore. Sadly, all of the information came in huge info dumps. The descriptions of the scenery were beautiful though, so I guess there’s that…
Overall I give this book 1 out of 5 stars and would not recommend it.