The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice
|The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A serious mis-step in what looked like being a grand werewolf cycle, from the mistress of pre-Meyer vampire lore.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 528||Date: October 2014|
Things have certainly changed for Reuben Golding now that he is a werewolf. He's living with hardly a care for his journalism career in a huge, rich mansion in the woods in rural west coast US, with some exotic European retainers and servants, and several fellow werewolves, who are doing their best at times to help him in the transition, and guiding him in the ways of the immortal. He's using his new-found powers to be a sort of vigilante, ridding the world of evil people and rescuing their victims, but it's much closer to home that the change in his life really manifests itself. Just because he has cut ties to his past, it doesn't mean they cannot return to haunt him. The transaction that left him the mansion might not have been completely smooth after all. And even if he might have an endless future, it's not to say he's going to get the one he thinks he wants and deserves, especially where his lover Laura is concerned…
I enjoyed the first book in this series muchly, for a great start to a novel cycle, and a strong visitation of werewolf lore. So I really don't know what happened this time round. First, this is a book that seriously outstays its welcome. You could honestly name any percentage then argue it could be shorter by that amount and only benefit. It's definitely an urban fantasy, whatever the setting, as the actual drama of being a werewolf is taken over by domesticity, romance, and the spirit and emotion of being changed. There's a soapy feel to everything as Reuben's larger family all gets involved – the priest brother who is the only one to know his secret, due to the confessional, his father, girlfriend and more – and a noticeable lack of pages where he or in fact anyone is lupine.
There's also a heinous writing style. Perhaps not all of these terms cross the Atlantic, but Ms Rice is clearly not one to patronise her audience, speaking as she does of chafing dishes, grosgrain, and some fancy lacework terms. Yet she just blunders through her dialogue scenes, 'he said', 'she said', and people refer to each other in plain speech by their surnames like nobody has since Mulder and Scully in The X-Files - even their own parents. And what, pray tell, are they talking about in this book? Preparations for a huge Christmas celebration. Yup, never forget the domestic side that's clearly been sorely lacking from werewolf lore – we really need them to have a festive knees-up, of course, and don't care how much of it we get with only some interruptions from drama that break up the swathes of mundanity far, far too irregularly.
This is a most unusual book, coming across as such a disappointment when faced with what had gone before – both in Rice's thirty-book oeuvre and last time of asking. What's more there a frustrating glimpse at what might have been – the wolves run and the pulse does race, the interior look at Reuben and the other Morgenkinder help defines the mythology of these creatures and make them if not fully stand out then edge their feet towards being known as superior in the ranks of genre types. There's a brilliant evocation of a haunting – which becomes just something else for the interchangeable characters to witter on and on and on about. And without giving anything whatsoever away, it's patently noticeable than for the last 120 pages our hero does nothing more reactive than pass on a message. He listens to the ghost, he drives, and it being urban fantasy he has a bit of sex, and that's about it. He's such a non-existent, passive lead character, and I often put this book down in frustration with more vehemence and drama than he musters, which says it all.
I must still thank the publishers for letting me see a review copy.
For far superior urban fantasy, we recommend Shifting Shadows: Stories From the World of Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice at Amazon.com.
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