Josh Reviews: The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

Posted June 22, 2012 by Joshua Burns in / 9 Comments

The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

Title: The Wolf Gift
Author: Anne Rice
Publisher: Knopf
Format: Hardcover, 404 pages
Published: February 14, 2012
ISBN #: 9780307595119 / 0307595119
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My Copy: borrowed
Rating:Paw RatingPaw RatingPaw RatingPaw Rating
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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 went back and forth a lot while reading this book. Sometimes each little sentence felt a slog. Then the last three hundred pages were read in a rush. A friend of mine recommended me the book after he had seen Anne Rice on the Colbert Show. He showed me the interview which was really the only information I had going into this book other than the fact that Anne Rice had written Interview with a Vampire, a movie, popular amongst a couple of my friends, that I had not seen. So I what gleaned from the interview was primarily Anne Rice’s love story (and break-up and getting back together and breaking-up again) with Christianity and the Catholic church. Much of my pleasure initially derived from connecting the dots between our protagonist, Reuben, and the Christ figure. The comparisons are not hard to make. And so for awhile, I would have recommended the book more for its hokey morality aspect than anything. But then a romance crept in, a bizarre and pretty unforeseen romance, that had me flipping pages. Then the development of the wolf gift had me flipping pages. Then the climax when we would finally learn all the secrets. Then the book ended, leaving me wanting more, especially as regards Reuben’s lover, Laura.

I will say, kink as it is, that I would prefer the book to not be set in the present. Every mention of an Iphone had me cringing. I just feel every mention is free advertising like in our fantasies we have to have one. And fantasy is a key word here because so much of this book smacks of wish fulfillment. Reuben lives the life, even when given the wolf gift. The only thing he has to complain about is distance from his family but they are left pretty undeveloped anyway, always to the sidelines of what is essentially Reuben’s story. The sentences, also, to toss out a controversial complaint are very uncolorful. I don’t know about you all but I really like interesting verb choice and action verbs and this book more than often enough delivers up a “was” or an equally one-dimensional substitute. I will say if you like transformations it is clear that Anne Rice enjoys writing about them. Each time she manages to make them feel a tiny bit different. I guess that would be my angle for complaint. It is clear that Anne Rice has a mastery over narrative presentation and pacing but what she lacks is that pinache, that going over the cliff side that separate the true mystics from the mundane. I think that I remember more of this book than any I have read in recent memory because it is so easy to picture the scenes. If you like that aspect and an entertaining read whether for its inadvertent comedy or its romance then I would recommend this book.

Recommendation: A flat, nose-to-the-grind read. Clarity at an all time high.
Like this, like that: Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, the Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton

Josh

About the Blogger
I review Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books with a focus all things werewolf. Based out of Ottawa, Canada

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Reviews UF/PR novels with an eye for weres of all kinds.

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9 responses to “Josh Reviews: The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

  1. The “rich white boy” problems are indeed a difficulty. In the days of Occupy movements, it’s difficult to drum up sympathy for a trust-fund baby who can fart around at a low-paying job and still drive a Porsche. Fortunately, Rice is savvy enough to keep that stuff in the background and use it mainly to simplify the plot: no question of where Reuben gets the money to renovate a huge freakin house, buy a collection of ancient relics, etc.. If you wanted to make it deep, you could say that his wealth has isolated him from the natural state of the world, which lycanthropy helps him reconnect with. But the book doesn’t go that path, instead making him into a kind of lycanthropic Batman. Still a good read.

    -LupLun
    Shooting for the Moon

  2. Nice review! I was kind of divided as to whether I should read this one, as it seems to be a departure from Rice’s usual style whereas still trying to appeal to her same vampire chronicles core audience; cool insights!

    DarkEva

  3. I’m reading this for a book club I moderate and I have to say, I’m fairly disappointed in it. I found the conveniences in this kid’s life a bit too convenient. So far there doesn’t seem to be any drama. Now, I’ve just reached past second tranformation, so maybe it will become more gripping later. I just find nothing interesting about Reuban or his condition (accept Rice’s take that transformation is exciting, not painful), really. Even the lycanthropy hasn’t been a headache in the remotest way. The transformation feels fantastic for him and his parents never knock on the door at inconvenient moments. I haven’t read Rice in a while (that’s more me than her). I was a huge fan of the vampire series. I was fascinated by her take on vampires and mummies so when I heard she was tackling another classic, I was anxious to read it. But it’s really disappointed me. By the way, if anyone wants to take part in the online book chat please feel free. It’s at 7 p.m. (central time) July 10 at http://blogs.pioneerlocal.com/bookclub/. I am curious to see what she does with this.

  4. @LupLun Yeah I think that adds some fresh perspective on it. Of course, in general my thoughts on it have pretty mellowed. Just a big shrug. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. @DarkEva Thanks! It was a little more opinionated than my usual plan for writing is. I don’t dare to say much as to how it compares to other Rice work. Do read it?

  6. Josh I read this early this year and both loved and hated it. I loved her take on werewolves and their history, but felt the entire book dragged. Yes it did pick up, but I was always able to put it down and walk away. Great review!

  7. Hey Josh, thanks for the review! In my opinion, if the book winds up being a stand alone with no sequel, then it will be a dissapointment. As of now, there are talks of a sequel/series and in light of that I feel The Wolf Gift will serve as a good foundation for future works. I have no doubt that Anne Rice will explore the past lives of Margon, Felix and the others, and eventually mix the past and present as she has in many of her other novels. I definitely catapulted through the beginning of the book, slogged through some of the middle and then sprinted through the end, but overall I thought it was a good read. I am particularly intrigued to see where they go with Stuart and Laura! Thanks again, keep up the good reviews!

    Melissa – http://www.TheNovelSphere.com