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October 14, 2013

Loved It: The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

Series: The Wolf Gift Chronicles 1
Format: Hardcover
Read an excerpt
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Knopf
Source: Borrowed-Public Library
Genre: Literature & Fiction/Sci-fi
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBookstore 

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.




Will the Queen of Vampires become the Empress of Werewolves?

That is the question in most people's minds with the release of Anne Rice's latest novel, The Wolf Gift. I have been a fan of Anne Rice's work and I have diligently followed her novels throughout the years. Like most of you I have my favorites and naturally, she has published stories that didn't quite capture my imagination.

What makes The Wolf Gift anticipated and special is it heralds the "return" of vintage Anne Rice and this time she romanticizes Werewolves instead of Vampires. After she "quit" Christianity in 2010 followed by her announcement on her latest project, The Wolf Gift, fans are hoping that her Werewolf novel will be as groundbreaking, controversial and seductive as her previous works before she became a practicing Roman Catholic again.

So everyone is rooting for this book and we, her fans, are hoping that we get to crown The Queen of Vampires as the Empress of Werewolves.

What to expect
You won't find the arrogance of Lestat, Louis tortured soul or even the cunning notoriety of Lasher. If I have to compare Reuben Golding with any of Anne's former characters, it would have to be Ramses (Ramses the Damned 1991) or Toby O'Dare (Songs of Seraphim 2009).

Reuben is dubbed Sunshine Boy because of his classic good looks but he exudes wisdom behind those soulful blue eyes and the depth of his understanding goes beyond his 23 years. He is somewhat of a Renaissance man with his deep appreciation for art and learning which adds to his allure and charm. When he was turned into a Wolf, he became a vigilante of sorts, saving lives and helping those who are in trouble, using his Gift for the betterment of man.

I wouldn't call any of her books an "easy read" like most novels nowadays because her writing has always been more of a prose due to her choice of words and how she tells the tale.

Anne is a true author of Romanticism, and I'm not talking about Fabio-esque love stories, but rather The Wolf Gift is chronicle of sorts, an aesthetic telling of her thoughts and experience through Reuben Golding. If you are one of the People of the Page, you know how her stand of politics, gay rights, Matt Bomer and Downton Abbey. Those and much more are reflected in this novel.

And if you're curious about what Rice's Werewolf is, Reuben is more like the Lycans in Underworld, upright and retains his humanity and rational consciousness, albeit more enhanced, while in Wolf form. He can transform at will and Reuben describes it as this delicious tingling and rush of power.

Anne's Blueprints
Anne's writing has changed and has somewhat mellowed over the years because of various personal experiences she had. And though her 2005-2010 novels got warm reviews, fret not because The Wolf Gift still demonstrates classic Anne Rice style. 

As an ex-erotica writer, Anne Rice's love story and sexual scenes has been tempered by this genre: Lestat feeding on Dora's menstrual period (Memnoch the Devil 1995), the incestuous relationships, rape of the Taltos, and the sexual relationships of the Mayfairs with the ghost of Lasher (The Lives of the Mayfair Witches 1990-1994), or even Guido Maffeo and Tonio Treschi's desperate need for love (Cry to Heaven 1982) to name a few. In The Wolf Gift she sort of plays around with the beauty of bestiality as Ruben takes Laura in Wolf form, the latter relishing the feel of his velvet-like fur beneath her fingertips. For fans of Urban Fantasy, this will hardly make us flinch but this is tame compared to previous works by Anne.

In her "vintage" works, as I fondly refer to it, Anne has valued loyalty more than faithfulness and this is evident in this novel too. Anne's characters all share that spontaneous appreciation for beauty and spiritual connection with another being that some may refer to as soulmates. Her characters recognize that kinship with another soul once they came across that person and would act on fulfilling that bond damn the consequences. 

If you're a new reader starting on The Wolf Gift, you might find it odd that human relationships are treated so casual in favor of a new one. But in Anne's world her characters have always lived freely "in the moment". They dust themselves off and move on with whatever gratification or regret they have, a silent agreement that what was shared was beautiful but has reached its zenith and has expired. It is challenging to explain these concepts without writing a theses to justify what some readers might find inconsistent or abnormal. But in Anne's world, love and friendships are forever, relationships fleeting.

In My Humble Opinion
I've read a handful of reviews from other people, some by journalists and a couple by amateur critics like me, and a few of them felt that the ending was dragging.
Here's my take on it.

I understand why they felt that the latter part of the novel dragged after the climax and the villains "summarily dismissed" this is because the revelation happened after the big shebang. If maybe it was done before that adrenaline-filled scenario with the Russian Doctors, it might have followed the standard flow of a book, introduction - revelation - conflict - resolution, and would have been more appealing to old and new blood readers. 

Overall I still liked The Wolf Gift and I might have failed to convince some of you because my thoughts might appear desultory. There is so much I want to share and I have to constantly revise this to make it more succinct (FAIL!). But like what her dedication states, The Wolf Gift is for the People of the Page and we The People have been introduced and has become citizens of Anne's world and our understanding just goes beyond the pages of the book.

I'm sorry if this is an extra long post but obviously I am a loyal fan. Some people heart Jane Austen, as for me I just LOVE Anne Rice.


Republishing this review which was originally posted last year, February 2012.



17 comments:

  1. I am a huge Anne Rice fan- so I especially loved reading this post. I think you did a fabulous job explaining who she is an author and the changes that she has gone through over the years. I haven't read this new book yet, but I have read mixed reviews on it. I like how you clearly explained why some of the reviews might not be the most positive. I plan to read this one and see what it is all about. Thanks for sharing.

    ~Jess
    http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com/

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    1. She's the reason why i fell in love with Vampires and Werewolves :)

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  2. Thank you for the great review! Anne Rice's books are definitely not 'easy reads'. But I like her style. I'll check out The Wolf Gift. I think my library has it... :)

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  3. I am about to spout heresy here ;) I have never read an Anne Rice novel. I think this just might be the one I choose to start with. Thank you for sharing your passion for this author's work :)

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    1. There's always a first time for everything :)

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  4. DKDIERJFEFJFEHGNJWN!! ANNE RICE! *BOWS* I cannot wait to read this book!

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  5. I have to admit it's been years since I've read anything by Anne. I think I need to get back into her wonderful world of writing. Great review partner although I didn't read everything cause I didn't want any spoilers.

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  6. Nice breakdown...love the review Braine. She's the reason I fell in love with vamps too. She reall just has a way with words ;)

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    1. Yes, she has a very distinct voice, Anne Rice.

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  7. It's sad but I've never read an Anne Rice novel. I'm very curious about this one, and I'm glad you liked it. Great review, Braine!

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    1. Girl, read her erotica books, I think you'll respond to those more than her paranormal ones.

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  8. I love how much you love her books Braine. You've so got me wanting to give them a try now :) On my next book splurge I'll have to pick one up :)

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    1. Glad to influence you. It's her way of telling the story that has me by the neck. It's a gift, really.

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  9. I love her books and just haven't gotten around to this one. Thanks for making me really want to read it right now.

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  10. Now that's some Anne love, Braine! I haven't read her books in quite a few years. But this review makes me want to dive back in. :)

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