The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice
The Wolf Gift chronicles the life-changing experience of a relatively young story writer for the local paper. Ruben is hired to write story about an ancient and beautiful mansion set deep in the Californian woods that needs to be sold, only to end up falling in love with it. The disaster strikes that night as burglars break in and murdering the owner of the mansion. As Ruben fears for his life, some monstrous creature shreds the burglars and leaves Ruben wounded with a deep bite.
Ruben barely survived, but is befuddling the medical staff at the hospital. He's recovering incredibly fast and his blood is full of all sorts of strange hormones. Slowly Ruben becomes stir crazy as he hears voices from the downtown city, people about to be murdered, raped, beaten, or robbed. The voices call to him, and call to his beast within.
Is this a curse or a gift? Ruben loves the raw power of his new form, the feel of his fur and fangs, but this is not normal. His family is worried about him as he hides away to keep his wolf-form a secret. His relationship with his girlfriend falls apart. Why was he forced to be left alone in this new world as a werewolf? Are there others like him out there? He needs someone to help him navigate this new life.
This book was overall a good read. It generally progressed quickly, although I definitely jumped ahead a few times because it was taking too long to hit the transformation scene. I really enjoyed the take on being a werewolf in modern society, especially since the main character really embraced it. This book was definitely written for werewolf lovers out there.
The transformation was absolutely wonderfully written. The author really got into the feel of it all and it was very satisfying to read as a big fan of transformation. This continued for the entire book, even as Ruben becomes much more adept at transforming. The book also used quite a few medical terms to make the werewolf condition feel more believable, although that comes from me as a reader with no medical education.
I also enjoyed the distinct change in psychology Ruben went through, learning to enjoy both being a wolf, and being a human. Learning about the lust of roaming the forest and hunting live game.
That said, I was disappointed with the strength of the super powers the werewolf had. Super regeneration, super sight, super hearing. All of these super-powers take a story from being something we wanna-be-werewolves want to believe in, into glaring fantasy. Of course creatures can't magically recover from bullet wounds without a scratch. However, it did bring in the interesting concept of super-morals where werewolves can smell humans with evil intent. This is the driving force for most of the story.
Ruben develops a new romance with a strange woman he meets who lives in the middle of the forest. She actually meets him first in his werewolf form, and unlike every typical human response, she welcomed him to her home. This brings a whole new dimension to the story, about a couple learning to handle one being a werewolf, and about what kind of person would welcome a werewolf as a lover? Obviously us fuzzies here probably wouldn't mind a werewolf mate, but it speaks of the interesting past this character brings.
Perhaps most importantly, this female role brings up the topic we're all thinking when reading the story. Wouldn't we all want to be a werewolf too?
Now, no story is perfect, and I found this secondary female role to be playing into the typical female stereotypes. She's too weak and frequently referred to as fragile, but it does fit her back-story.
To end the review, and perhaps a small spoiler-warning, Ruben gets a little too frenzied fighting off homophobic murderers one night and accidentally creates the first gay werewolf. It's a little icing I enjoyed on the fine pastry that is this book.
Readability: Moderate. 500 pages, slow at times but a very good story.
Overall: 3.5 Paws out of 5.