The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice
Source: eARC via Random House-Knopf
My rating: 4 of 5 stars :star :star :star :star
Thank you to Random House, Knopf for providing me an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Wolves of Midwinter is the sequel to The Wolf Gift. It's definitely a sequel; you should read The Wolf gift before reading this so you become familiar with the characters and mythology. I also recommend you read some of Rice's other works before coming upon The Wolf Gift Chronicles. It's not an accurately representation of her ability to write horror. Even if you just read one book before delving into this series-- read Interview With The Vampire or The Vampire Lestat. That's enough of an intro to get the feel of her writing and also be able to accurately judge this series, if that makes sense.
Usually before we read novels, we have some sort of expectation that we later yield to either by being satisfied or disappointed with our earlier expectations. I'm delighted to say that (for once) I was pretty on the money with my expectations of The Wolves of Midwinter. I was anticipating a story about mid-winter (duh), Yuletide, wolves and evil-doers, and old pagan customs sprinkled in. Included is the coziness of a Christmas story with the creepiness of a Christmas Carol. I loved the spookiness of it; and it had just the right amount of thriller and historical fiction. So expect those things before picking up this novel.
Anne Rice puts her own spin on the typical werewolf myth in some fun ways. They go by the name of Morphenkinder (infinitely better than werewolf or Lycan). Instead of with werewolves, where the change tends to be unbidden/with the lunar cycles, the wolves here can change pretty much at will. Although anger or fear can speed along the change as well. I like the fact that they are very different from the other major supernatural being that Mrs. Rice writes about-- Vampires/Witches. I did feel a similarity between the worlds, but that could be because I've read dozens (yes, dozens) of Anne's books and by now know how the plot unfolds and where to look for foreshadowing, etc. For those of you who have read a lot of Anne Rice-- don't expect a fresh new story. The Wolves of Midwinter is typical Anne Rice; strong plot, beautiful prose, and deep characters. But, unique to this novel is the feeling of Christmas and Holiday spirit. It's the perfect novel to read before a warm fire with a glass of wine or brandy with snow flurries outside your window.
My only qualm is that Reuben can't be 23. He seems like he's my age-- 26 perhaps but definitely not 23. Anne has trouble writing younger characters, I mean young adult characters. They just come across as too mature and then in your head as you're reading you're picturing Reuben as being in his late twenties early thirties. Reuben is sexy though. I can totally picture him in my head and I think he's actually the hottest character Rice has created. At least, he fits my personal tastes the most. Too bad he's fictional...
Another great thing in this novel is the introduction of the forest spirits. They were hinted to and described in Memnoch the Devil. Their origins being the first children of Adam and Eve. (I'm not sure about that..we should ask Anne..) Perhaps it's because The Witching Hour is one of my all time favorite books about witches/ghosts, but I just adored the way the ghosts were written in this. Not Casper-friendly, and there's a hint of malevolence behind their good deeds. Ah, Lasher...the ultimate sex-ghost-who-later-betrays-you. We get a host of spirits of the forest; they protect those who love and respect the forest. It's a super cool concept and it was genius.
I was a little confused by the ending. I think I know what Reuben and Laura were hinting at-- but even after rereading I can't be sure. It wasn't really an open-ended ending per-se, but it definitely makes you wonder...
I really had fun reading the latest of the Wolf Gift Chronicles. And I'd love for there to be more in the series. Reuben just grew into a bigger crush of mine in this book. I adored Reuben's family and finding more about Phil and even the horrid Celeste. The “Distinguished Gentlemen” are as awesome as ever, and we get a better feel for the dynamic with the Stuart and Reuben in the mix. It's a great novel to read this holiday/winter and you're sure to enjoy the spooky atmosphere of wolves in Northern California..smelling for Evil...
View all my reviews
October 14, 2013
ARC Review: The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice
(aka Dee) has loved reading for as long as she can remember. She loves many things: fantasy novels, young adult fiction, her cat, painting, and horror films from the 70s. Diamond is a grad student at UCLA. She's pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Science.