October 14, 2013

Braine Reviews: The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice

Series: The Wolf Gift Chronicles 2
Format: eGalley
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Knopf
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Literature & Fiction/Sci-fi
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBookstore 

Now in her new novel, as lush and romantic in detail and atmosphere as it is sleek and steely in storytelling, Anne Rice brings us once again to the rugged coastline of Northern California, to the grand mansion at Nideck Point—to further explore the unearthly education of her transformed Man Wolf.

The novel opens on a cold, gray landscape. It is the beginning of December. Oak fires are burning in the stately flickering hearths of Nideck Point. It is Yuletide. For Reuben Golding, now infused with the wolf gift and under the loving tutelage of the Morphenkinder, this Christmas promises to be like no other . . . as he soon becomes aware that the Morphenkinder, steeped in their own rituals, are also celebrating the Midwinter Yuletide festival deep within Nideck forest.

From out of the shadows of the exquisite mansion comes a ghost—tormented, imploring, unable to speak yet able to embrace and desire with desperate affection . . . As Reuben finds himself caught up with the passions and yearnings of this spectral presence and the preparations for the Nideck town Christmas reach a fever pitch, astonishing secrets are revealed, secrets that tell of a strange netherworld, of spirits—centuries old—who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and taunt with their dark, magical powers

The Renaissance Wolf Man is back and Reuben Golding's story continues in THE WOLVES OF MIDWINTER, book 2 of Anne Rice's werewolf, or should I say Morphenkinder, series, The Wolf Gift Chronicles. ARice continues to captivate with her prose and characters that embed themselves in her readers' psyche. Her latest hero, Reuben Golding, is quickly joining the ranks of ARice's other beloved characters with his affable ways, altruistic demeanor and unforgettable story as the Man Wolf. 
You know what kills us, don't you, Reuben? Not wounds, or pestilence, but immortality itself.

But you are bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. Come. We will make our truth together.
THE WOLVES OF MIDWINTER has a romantic flair about it. Not only is it set in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, San Francisco, the backdrop is the upcoming Yule, or Christmas, and Reuben and Nideck Point are busy making preparations for its celebration. And I promise you, the imagery is spectacular and almost royal in its opulence and attendance. On top of this Modranicht is just around the corner and this is a very significant time for Morphenkinders. Like all of ARice's books, I took my sweet time with THE WOLVES OF MIDWINTER. ARice has a way with words that draws you in with its even pace and careful way of telling the story. Not only that but she's a genius as far as picking proper names are concerned: Marchent, Margon, Felix and Celeste to name a few; I find it so romantic and timeless. 

Now I have to be honest and say that compared to The Wolf Gift, I found THE WOLVES OF MIDWINTER to have a slow start. More than halfway into reading and I'm still trying to figure out what the main conflict of the novel is. There's ghost haunting, family drama and bits and pieces of possible conflict strewn here and there but nothing that has a tight and continuous tension that will pose itself as the main one. With how things ended at The Wolf Gift, I was expecting that Laura, Reuben's mate, accepting the Gift will be the predominant issue especially as THE WOLVES OF MIDWINTER opened with Reuben and Laura discussing the wisdom of her decision. It took me a while to have a firm grasp of things and really what this installment's about is family, unconditional love and tolerance. I know it sounds "soft" and a little contrary considering we're talking about ferocious otherworldly beings here but I do like how these Morphenkinder are even more humane than us in so many ways despite the call of the moon.

Though Reuben and his pack are sort of vigilantes ridding the streets of San Francisco of drug dealers and other forms of human scum, we won't be taken on wild, high velocity chases or get embroiled with of pack politics, Alpha males, pissing contests and the like. Reuben and his pack are chill, they're mighty interesting as the lot of them have led multiple lifetimes and has a wealth of knowledge to share but they're pretty level headed for the most part. From my POV, The Wolf Gift Chronicles is about personal and individual relationships than Pack ranks and politics. Unlike their other fictional contemporaries, ARice's Morphenkinder aren't high on adrenalin and testosterone, they're pretty level headed and more human than beast as far as their personality tendencies are concerned. Which shouldn't come as a surprise because the series isn't considered Urban Fantasy or even Paranormal Romance. It's more Literature & Fiction/Fantasy similar to Deborah Harkness' books for those of you who aren't familiar with The Wolf Gift Chronicles. Plus, ARice's work is pretty consistent in terms of genre, even when her heroes are of the preternatural kind, they're never brawny in a PNR/UF way.

The hero, Reuben Golding, is unlike any werewolf hero I've ever encountered. He's a strong character, don't get me wrong, but he's not tagged as a Renaissance man for nothing. A self deprecating dreamer, Reuben's strength doesn't lie in being lupine, what I find utterly compelling about his character is that he doesn't let what he is define him as a person. Regardless of what the situation is, he approaches things in a collected manner devoid of prejudice and bitterness. All throughout THE WOLVES OF MIDWINTER I was imagining David Talbot paying a visit to Nideck Point. It may be wishful thinking but ARice did a series crossover before with her Vampire Chronicles and Lives of the Mayfair Witches via David Talbot and now that he's a vampire, I'm hoping that he'll read about the Man Wolf and come and visit Nideck Point. Just thinking about his conversations with Reuben is exciting me! 
Why do we so often settle for what makes us devoutly unhappy! Why do we accept that happiness just isn't possible?
Reading ARice always gives me a feeling of nostalgia or melancholia even. There's always a certain sadness to her stories that tickles my heartstrings a little bit. Though THE WOLVES OF MIDWINTER didn't excite me as much as The Wolf Gift, I still enjoyed the novel. The last hundred pages or so of the book wowed me with its implications promising that book 3 will is going to be a very interesting journey for Reuben. 
Were moving away from them, all of them, and we're moving ever deeper into your own story and maybe that is as it should be.


  1. I struggled with book one, I just didn't feel the characters, and I am glad you enjoyed this one..good to know that book three promises to be exciting! Wonderful review :)

    1. I did too and I get what you're saying. My struggle with the entire series is I keep on comparing it with her previous work which was more sassy & snarky. These new characters are polite and very rhetorical sometimes.

  2. Can you believe I haven't read these yet? Need to get on it.

  3. I haven't read Anne Rice in ages! Since Queen of the Damned in fact and I was a teenager then lol...I'll check this series out. Great review as always :)

    1. Anne Rice is my personal rockstar. She's my Rolling Stones, Madonna, Elvis, Marlon Brando, etc. I DEVOUR her books regardless.

  4. I have the first booj...u have me all excited to read it now.

  5. I really can't believe I've never read her. I feel like such a bad little reader girl. lol I'm off to check out book one :) Sounds like one I could enjoy even with the slow start.

    1. Hahaha that's OK, I've never read Dickens and sometimes I feel like a fraud but you're good. Its just a matter of taste

  6. Such a great review! I love all the thoughts and feelings you put into it.

  7. Hmm... When I first heard that Anne Rice was writing a werewolf series I was psyched cuz I love her vamps; but after reading reviews for the first and now second book I'm kinda glad that I never found time to squeeze 'em in. If you liked this one less than the first well... I'll just have to continue to pass on this series.

    1. It's not "bad" per se but once you've been conditioned to reading fast-paced Urban Fantasy books, reading this series will feel different. I think that's one of my struggles because when someone says WEREWOLF I always think of a big pack on a stampede. Her wolves are more chill, they exude power in a quiet way.

  8. wow it's been a while since I've read an Anne Rice book. A really really long time and it was her vampire series. I don't really love her books so I stayed with these ones I confess. They're fun but well that's enough for me.

  9. I'm glad this was a worthy followup to The Wolf Gift, even if it didn't trip your trigger as quickly. I do love how Ms. Rice immerses you in her worlds. I think I'd like to meet Reuben, the Renaissance man.


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