The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

It has been quite a few years since I have ready something by Anne Rice. I started, as most did, with Interview With a Vampire, and I fell in love. I read through a good portion of her Vampire Chronicles, falling out of taste. The first three are books I will never forget. I just wasn’t entranced by the remaining books I read. After that, I took a break from her. While I enjoyed her writing style, I needed something different and just didn’t find my way back to her.

Until this book came out. I was walking through a bookstore a couple months ago and this book caught my eye. Honestly, I adore werewolves. I love the legends, the stories, the myths. For one of the most famous supernatural authors to have published a book relating to my favorite creature, I was sorely tempted. I did not purchase it, simply because I couldn’t afford it, but I never forgot it. Fast-forward to the beginning of this month where I found myself in a library. I saw this cover on the shelf and my search was over.

Like The Prestige, this book took me a little longer than normal to finish. I’m beginning to wonder if maybe my reading habits have changed. I used to be able to sit and read the day away. Lately, I think my responsibilities are catching up, and I haven’t had a day to give away like that. It’s saddening, but I made time for this book. There were times I wasn’t so sure about it, then times I couldn’t put it down. But I have to remind myself that the books I’ve picked out have had different themes, ones more focused on the execution of their story than the plot lines. This book balanced itself between thriller and philosophical exploration.

Rice writes of a “boy”, Reuben. He’s in his early twenties, youngest of two to a successful couple of a doctor and professor in California. As a writer for one of the papers, his encounter occurs when he is sent north to interview a woman in an old, family house. He fell in love with both the woman and the house, and after a horrid accident, finds himself the sole owner of the property as well as the change. The change — Chrism is the term used — is mostly a physical one, but does affect his mental capacities. He hears voices, voices of pure evil that he is spurred to find and destroy.

The book follows this plot, a Man Wolf hunting predators of people, those who are in the midst of killing, abusing, or harming others. He is incapable of harming innocents, which leads to witnesses, and wherever there are witnesses, there is truth told to the press. The entirety of San Francisco, California is on the hunt for this Man Wolf, some to capture or kill and get rid of the monster, others to praise it and thank it for saving their lives. Reuben, however, only wants answers. He wants to find the one who changed him, find out what’s going on with his body, and to learn what he has become. The two hunts clash in a well-told climax that I cannot even bring myself to touch. It is something I would suggest you read yourself.

I enjoyed this novel. There are remnants of Rice’s old storytelling, parts that do remind me of her Lestat, yet her voice has grown. Matured is not the right word, but it’s the only one coming to mind. There is a distinct difference in the views of religion and God, which is understandable considering the changes in her that have occurred between the two, and in my eyes, didn’t affect the story as much as it had previously. She explored the philosophy behind good and evil, as she had in the past, but was different. It was like a fresh breath of thought under new light, after sitting on the same idea for so long.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to more novels by her. This is definitely one I will revisit, but now must return back to the library. I feel I will be saddened by its return, but I know I’m not done with it yet.