Nyx Book Reviews

fantasy ♥ paranormal ♥ horror ♥ science-fiction

Review: The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

3 out of 5 stars
Published by Knopf
Review copy received through Netgalley

Ms Rice has made some pretty weird twists and turns in her writing career. She has written BDSM erotica, steamy romance, ancient vampire fantasy, contemporary witches, religious fiction. Now she has left the Church, this is her latest addition to her bibliography: werewolf literary fiction.

The Wolf Gift is the story about a man that has been called Beautiful Boy all of his life, a label he detests. He is a reporter, and when he visits a mansion to write an article about, he gets attacked by an mysterious assailant. He survives, but it seems like things are changing. Changing his whole identity.

Even though Ms Rice may have left the Church, religious themes are very distinctly present. Very distinctly. I call this book werewolf literary fiction on purpose. This is not a light fast-paced paranormal read. The Wolf Gift is heavy stuff, continuously spiralling toward philosophical insights and ethical inner conversations about the true nature of good and evil. I guess she brings up some valid points here, but to be very honest that was not what I was expecting. I was hoping to see something more like her older work from her vampire-era. The Wolf Gift wasn’t what I thought it would be at all.

This just really isn’t my kind of book. I started skipping their philosophical discussions after a while. I am sure some of you will enjoy them, but I will warn you. Do not expect this book to be fast-paced or something that keeps you on the edge of your chair. This is something you might read in a comfortable chair with a sophisticated alcoholic beverage of your choice. Something you will discuss over dinner with your theological discussion group. Or something like that.

If the only thing I didn’t enjoy in this story was the themes, I might have given this a higher rating. Something that really bummed me out was how horribly shallow the characters were. They felt like sock-puppets, just for show. They had no real personality, they weren’t consistent. At some point I got confused by who was speaking, because all of their voices are almost identical. I was a bit disappointed by this. The woman who has created one of my favourite characters of all time, the vampire Lestat, wasn’t able to bring this promising cast of characters to life.

Another thing that struck a nerve was how she handles the female relationships with Reuben, the main character. He switches effortlessly between lovers, loving (as in “I love you”, not as in lusting after) them in a single week. Someone that made a very deep impression to him in the first half of the book, gets completely forgotten in the second half. He cheats on his girlfriend, but his girlfriend doesn’t care because she understands. He gets a different girlfriend, and when he sees the old one, they’re friends. No awkwardness at all. Even if a book is fiction, I like the story to have a certain credibility. I was very much disappointed in that area.

The Wolf Gift is not a bad book. There is a market for this kind of book, and I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy it. But in my humble book-lover’s opinion, this isn’t Ms Rice’s best work so far.

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.

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