We know Anne Rice through her Interview with the Vampire novels. We remember Tom Cruise in the film of the book and yet knowing all this did not really prepare me for her new novel on werewolves.
A good storyteller will weave their tale around you, and ideas which seem preposterous in the light of day will start to form in the shadows. You will be drawn into the world of the wolf and you will be enchanted.
I came to this story having read and enjoyed The Wolf’s Hour by Robert R. McCammon. Usually I prefer to listen to a well-produced audio book as I feel that this can bring you closer to understanding what the author is trying to say. And so it was with Anne Rice’s new story. Downloaded from Audible, on the IPod and sitting in a quiet semi-lit room I, pressed the play button.
The first chapter was mild and irritating. It just didn’t seem to fit with what I had expected. Checking the audible website I started to think that I would never manage the whole 17 hours. But then it all changed. I have never come across a book where the switch to action and terror is so quick and unexpected and the first time this happened I had to replay the section to check that I hadn’t missed anything. The story moved to a different level and I was entranced. My everyday life receded and I entered the world of the werewolf.
Murder, mystery and romance are all here. But there is also a darker side to this tale. It touches on the nature of evil and the responsibility which we have to confront it. The idea of a city filled with souls in torment and crying out for help would have been familiar to Dante and into to this world comes the Wolfman looking to help and save the victims.
What you get is a merging together of myths and tales:
1. Jekyll and Hyde.
2. Beauty and the Beast.
3. Superman (and a reporter in Lois Lane style).
4. Redemption and Rebirth. Second chances for us all.
5. The Secret Vigilante.
6. Gods walking among us and exacting revenge upon our enemies (how Old Testament).
7. Belonging. Your own select society set against a world which doesn’t understand you.
These are powerful myths and when combined with werewolves and some more topical issues, such as the treatment of gays, then you have a heady tale.
I had always been skeptical about the ways in which men were supposed to turn into wolves. The sheer impossibility of the bones bending and changing as in “An American werewolf in London” always seemed implausible to me. However Anne Rice does this well and we are just left wondering how all that hair grows so quickly!
The audio book is well produced. The voices work and match the characters. Would I recommend the book? Yes and with no hesitation. I will eagerly await the follow up.