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The Wolf Gift: The Wolf Gift Chronicles (1)
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346 of 378 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 29, 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It has been years since I've read an Anne Rice novel, and I was initially hesitant about this one. However, the premise sounded interesting, so I ordered it anyway just out of curiosity. I'm very glad that I did. I started this book day before yesterday, but late in the evening , and went to bed only a couple of chapters in. I picked it up again yesterday afternoon - and by the time I realized that it was far past my bedtime, I was almost finished and NEEDED to see how it ended.

Reuben is a fledgling reporter in San Francisco, the youngest son of a fairly well-to-do family. He heads up to Mendocino County to do a story about an old house with a lot of history being sold. He finds himself falling in love with the place, but wakes during the night to hear his host being attacked. As he goes to defend her, he is attacked himself, and then mysteriously saved. During his recovery, he finds that he is...changing. He is becoming what he always assumed was a werewolf. But as he learns more about himself and his new abilities, he has to decide whether what is has been given is actually a curse - or whether it is truly a gift.

The Wolf Gift is not your typical werewolf story - it turns the genre on its head in more than one way. There is a strong thread of Good vs. Evil within the story, but the parts are not necessarily played by those you would expect. How does one know true Evil? Can something seen as evil actually be a servant of Good? Tied to the Good and Evil debate is a strong exploration of the existence of God, and our expectations of right and wrong.

However. This is not a heavy-handed religion book. This is an excellent novel with a fascinating and fast-paced story where part of the story includes a couple of strong themes woven throughout that make the story stronger rather than detracting from it.

Having not read an Anne Rice novel in years, I now find myself hoping that there might be a sequel in the works to continue this fascinating story. I don't know that another one could be as strong and do justice to this first one, but the characters are wonderful, and the whole novel is just so compelling, that I would love to read more.
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180 of 199 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Anne Rice's latest offering, "The Wolf Gift," marks her long awaited return to the Gothic Horror genre in which her popular Mayfair Witch and Vampire Chronicles reside, bringing the ancient werewolf myth, with certain strange new twists, into modern times. "The Wolf Gift" weaves a tale of complex moral questions, stark violence and monstrous brutality against a hauntingly picturesque Northern California.

Charmingly, in the Wolf Gift Ms. Rice has created her most eloquent tribute to the writers of the 1800s, those who wrote older Werewolf stories to which her "Distinguished Gentleman" sometimes refer. She sets the story not in summer, but in the perpetually rainy and overcast Bay Area of Wintertime, evoking images of Victorian Gothic Novels with their London weather. She paints her forests with damp under brush and rolling fogs, her architecture - especially the increasingly mysterious mansion at Nideck Point in Mendocino - with secret places, trapped doors, and the same kind of detailed and loving brush which caused Gothic Horror to be named for its Gothic architecture.

But below all of this is a modern take on the coming-of-age story. Set in the present, its protagonist is very unlike Interview with the Vampire's Louis, who had and lost a wife and family by the age of 25: Reuben is the modern boy-man; still unsure of who he is at the age of 23, and completely unable to break away from the expectations of a brilliant, overbearing mother. Intelligent and creative, but naive and sheltered, two years out of college, he is still having trouble defending starting out on a career path of his own choosing, and is still living at home with his parents. Even his girlfriend seems to be someone chosen to please his family. In a story that is peppered with contemporary technological elements such as Reuben's beloved iPhone; no device is as modern as Reuben himself, picture-perfect example of Generation Y and the American trend towards extended adolescence. Mr. Golding repeatedly protests his family (and girlfriend's) nicknames of Baby Boy, Little Boy, and Sunshine Boy, but despite his protestations, he is all of these things.

As a result, we have here, a story of a man-boy who becomes a man-wolf, and every element of Reuben's transformation: the erotic nature of the change, the overwhelming urge to protect the innocent through horrifically brutal acts; becomes an allegory for masculinity and the roles that have been taken away from generations of infantilized men such as Reuben: it is only later in the novel, when the Man Wolf Reuben begins to ask himself if any woman could ever find his original self, who he then describes as "vapid", as attractive. He struggles with something common for many young men: learning to balance what is dangerous and powerful in masculinity with what is gentle, and protective, and learning to view himself as a strong man in the eyes of a partner - not just a sweet boy in the eyes of a mother.

All of this folds into a romantic tale beautifully evocative of one of the most erotic of the Greco-Roman myths: the Tale of Eros and Psyche. Like Eros, Reuben is a young man dominated by his powerful mother (Venus), who seeks to break away and does so in falling in love with a beautiful woman who his mother treats as a competitor, rather than a daughter in law. In Reuben's case, his mother only wants him to develop a relationship with a woman very like herself, and who assists in her continued control over his destiny. She has no desire to allow her son to move out, grow up or become a man.

In every way, being bitten by a werewolf is the vehicle not only for Reuben's transformation from human into Morphenkind, but from boy into man in this powerfully brutal and erotic tale.
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194 of 216 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of Anne Rice's work since I was probably too young to be reading it, and I was cautiously optimistic when I heard that she was writing a werewolf book- would this, could this maybe be a return to the dark, intoxicating dream world of the early Vampire Chronicles?

Nope.

The book isn't all terrible. As always, Ms. Rice's powers of description are unmatched. As a relatively recent and wholehearted transplant to California's northern coast, I absolutely loved how she translated the unique beauty and character of this area into written words. Her spin on the classic werewolf legend is every bit as creative as any fan could expect it to be. There were a few parts of the story that fascinated and gripped me; unfortunately, those parts had nothing to do with the main plot or characters.

Really, I had two main issues with the book: one, nothing much happens; and two, most of the characters are irritating, undeveloped, extraneous, or all of the above.

The main character is Reuben Golding. He's 23, but sounds and acts like he's about 70. Seriously, the most cultured and mature of 23-year-old men do not sound like this guy, and if they did they'd be every bit as annoying as Reuben. He doesn't even dress like a young man... does anyone even wear turtlenecks anymore, let alone with double breasted blazers? Reuben is tall, beautiful, and wealthy... and that's pretty much it. He's supposedly intelligent and poetic, but he just comes across as pretentious. He reminds me quite a lot of Quinn Blackwood, actually. That's not a good thing.

Reuben doesn't do much of anything except rip bad guys apart, have sex, and write widely praised newspaper articles. Despite this, the "werewolf superhero" angle doesn't go very far. Reuben isn't troubled in the least by his new circumstances. He is never in any real trouble or danger. Everyone adores Reuben instantly, so he never has any actual problems with any of the other characters. Also, everyone loves everyone else instantly. The few characters who do not love Reuben and everyone else on sight are killed immediately. Anything negative that might happen to Reuben is quickly quashed, and usually by someone else. His enemies, such as they are, are so easily defeated as to be afterthoughts. No one becomes angry or hurt by any of Reuben's actions, including his supposedly doting parents and his non-girlfriend. Well, no one except for his brother Jim, whose life and emotional well-being get basically trashed forever by Reuben, all for no readily apparent reason other than to have Very Deep and Meaningful Talks about morality and God every few pages. Jim was one of the few characters I ended up feeling anything for, and even then it was just pity. Poor Jim. The only other character I really wanted to know anything about was Felix, and when he *finally* shows up like you know he will by page three, he doesn't do much of anything except smile affectionately and gaze fondly at Reuben.

So basically, everyone is rich (and I do mean everyone), everyone is beautiful, everyone loves Reuben, everyone loves everyone else, and oh yeah-- Reuben is a werewolf.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
The Wolf Gift was a pleasant and welcomed surprise.

A bit of personal background: I was practically raised by Anne Rice. Somehow I discovered The Vampire Chronicles as a link between Roald Dahl and what people in English classes consider "grown up" literature, and I'm not sure I would have survived adolescence without her. Through the years, I confess that I eventually lost touch with Rice's later work -- she started writing about angels and Jesus, and I went down the Lovecraft path. Still, I remembered my teen years locked away with the vampires and the witches fondly, and would aggressively defend Rice's work against the book snobs I met later in life.

Recently, I decided to see what she was up to, and checked out her Facebook page. I was surprised to see her actively engaging in discussions with her fans (though I shouldn't have been -- Rice has always been approachable and was one of the first authors to really make use of the internet. I still remember the purple background of the old Anne Rice website, which included a number to allow fans to leave her phone messages). If over the years I had built up an image in my mind of Anne locked away in a crumbling New Orleans mansion scribbling away by candlelight, it was a lot of fun to discover that she is just like the rest of us: she talks about TV, asks questions, makes mistakes, and most importantly, she has a clear passion for learning and discovery. Unlike many authors who have reached her level of commercial success, Rice seems to possess an active and restless mind, and wants to challenge herself rather than rest on past success. I decided that I was intrigued enough to pick up The Wolf Gift, my first since 2002's Blackwood Farm.

Reading The Wolf Gift was like returning home after a decade away. I was initially hesitant, but this is a not a dilettante's trifling foray into werewolf territory. Anne clearly knows her stuff and has read extensively on the subject, and her passion for research is visible and appreciated. As she has done in the past with mummies, witches, and most famously vampires, Anne takes an exhausted genre trope and makes it completely her own, creating a whole new mythology and injecting some much needed vitality into this genre in the post-Twilight world. As always, I appreciate her attention to detail and commitment to world-building, and clever little nods and references to the werewolf fiction of the past will be appreciated by fans of the genre.

Rice is a much better writer than a lot of mainstream critics give her credit for, and The Wolf Gift has some very impressive descriptive passages. One thing she has always done better than most of her peers is create atmosphere. And, while there is much to love in the lush and powerful prose that follows Reuben through the dense moonlit forests of northern California (a new setting for her, and one that she uses to great effect here), scenes that have power, scenes with a throbbing pulse that make you want to run outside and howl at the moon, equally powerful are the novel's quieter moments spent inside the sprawling house of Nideck Point. As fans of The Witching Hour (still one of my favorite novels) can attest to, no one can set a scene and build a house out of words quite like Anne. Nideck Point is a very different place than Mayfair Manor -- this is not a retread of past success -- and one that is fully and beautifully realized. We are intrigued about its mysteries and keep the pages turning to explore its hidden corners.

The novel's main weakness for me was actually its protagonist. As much as I tried, I couldn't quite make myself care for Reuben. This may be some jealousy on my part -- he's young, he's beautiful, and he can impulsively decide to purchase a mansion. I also had a hard time with the two women he falls for throughout the course of the book -- Marchent and Laura both seem entirely too trusting, and all of these people fall in love so readily that it made my cynical eyes roll. I'm willing to concede that there was some sort of animal magnetism at play here, but I would have liked maybe a little more hesitation or critical thought from at least one of these two women. I also had a few issues with some of Laura's dialogue, which sometimes sounded forced and stunted. As this is the first in the series, I would like later works to get deeper into Laura's character at some point to help me better understand why she so willingly wound up in Reuben's arms.

However, Rice does a great job with the supporting cast, and fortunately I found the rest of the people in Reuben's life a lot more interesting than Reuben himself. The Golding family are all well defined and fascinating individuals. His parents Grace and Phil (a brilliant surgeon and a poet/professor, respectively) and especially his brother Jim, a conflicted Catholic priest, all crackle with life and I think they steal all of the scenes away from Reuben whenever they're on-page together. Likewise, I found myself more sympathetic toward Celeste than I probably should have been. The trajectory of their relationship was believable, and their scenes together felt more realistic and nuanced than the way Rueben related to the other two women. Rice also seemed to really enjoy writing Felix, as I felt the energy of all his scenes almost tangibly radiating off of the page whenever he was even MENTIONED.

The Wolf Gift deals with some of the philosophical questions of morality and Christianity that Rice is known for without being heavy handed or preachy. Despite its flaws, this is a fascinating and beautifully written story. At a point in her career where many other writers may seem to be going through the motions and grabbing a paycheck, Anne's fiction is just as powerful, vital, and occasionally even charmingly naive as it was almost 40 (!) years ago. Nothing about The Wolf Gift seems like it was written merely for the sake of money, and it feels like a true labor of love -- and also, maybe most importantly, as if Rice is having a great time tackling these new myths and places. Rice is doing what she loves, and the novel works because of it. She has effectively won back this wayward fan, and I will be the first in line to purchase The Wolves of Midwinter, the next book in this series, on October 15th. Rating: B

@robrussin
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144 of 162 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"The Wolf Gift" is Anne Rice's her debut return to the supernatural genre that made her a household name. At one level it is the story of the making of a "wolf-man" and the impact upon the lives of individuals and the society of modern day San-Francisco. At a deeper level it is a timeless tale used as a setting by the author to ask age old questions about mankind, history, society and our limited self-understanding.

Reuben Golding is a young man of independent means and accomplished parents. He is gifted, intelligent and worldly yet Reuben lives a life that lacks direction, passion and purpose. This is evident in his relationship with his intense goal-driven girlfriend and accomplished mother. He takes a job as a junior reported and is assigned the most mundane of all jobs, to report on an old mansion and property for sale deep in the ancient woods of the Northern California coast.

Reuben finds in this house a mysterious and beautiful woman, a mysterious and ancient family struck by tragedy and the priceless collection of ancient artifacts and writings left after the sudden and unexplained disappearance of the home's owner. In the massive collection of books, art and artifacts Rueben finds himself strongly drawn to the home and its mysterious beauty he is to interview. Rueben seems to sense that a purpose to his education and worldly travels, made possible by his family wealth, may be tied up in this home and resolves to be the purchaser.

The author uses the opening chapter as a composer a symphony, bringing together several parallel themes and voices that interweave in such a manner as to leave the reader a bit uneasy and disoriented despite the calm and serene beauty. As the reader is being introduced to the main characters and the setting, trying to become oriented to what is both attracting and overwhelming Rueben, a subtle tension is developed as reporter and beautiful heiress join in physical union.

The bliss is suddenly disrupted by a horrible attack leaving three dead and Reuben mortally wounded. The invaders kill the woman Marchent, but before they can finish off Reuben, they are literally torn apart by a strange powerful animal that seems to appear out of nowhere. The animal bites Reuben but for some reason allows him to live. Reuben is rescued and taken to the hospital to be cared for by his famous physician-mother and placed into the care of Ms. Rice's strange world.

Reuben makes a remarkable recovery and undergoes a physical metamorphosis that is apparent to all and defies the scientist's ability to explain. He changes from the inside as well, as emotions and feelings become more intense. Eventually, after discharge, one night he experiences the full transformation into a werewolf. He is overwhelmed as his senses, strength, power, empathy and sense of justice are heightened to equal his new abilities.

Reuben explores the city of his birth by night, effortlessly soaring over rooftops and trees, hearing the voices and smelling the scents all around him as a wild animal would. Yet there is something to these senses that has a moral and empathic imperative that far exceeds the human experience and his ability to understand. Transformed, thus, Reuben seems fully human and fully a new and wild animal trying to balance and control the extremes of both.

During his exploits, Reuben finds himself compulsively drawn to those victims of violence crying out unheard in the night and rescues them by tearing apart their attachers. After the bloody, horrible "feast" he is capable of the tenderest care of the innocent. After successive nights of dramatic rescues, including that of a large group of school children who are being tortured and killed by men awaiting ransom, the star of the wolf-man is born. There are witnesses and survivors of which Reuben is one.

What follows is Reuben's struggle to understand and control these changes, search for their meaning, survive the alienation and power it brings and deal with reality by day that he is a son, brother and friend that is becoming a source of worry to those he loves. He is drawn to the mysterious house, willed to him by the beautiful Marchent, trying to unlock its mysteries and his own.

Ms Rice uses the genre of the supernatural to explore the basic questions facing mankind. Who are we? What is the true meaning of human existence? Who lies behind the creation of this world and what is our place in it? What are good and evil? What are the limits of our knowledge? Are we really the pinnacle of creation or just another species awaiting time's evolutionary forces to work? Can tremendous power and an intense desire to right the wrong and protect the innocent be satisfied and actually achieve its goal in our world? Are our noblest thoughts, feelings and urges - love, empathy and reason - a gift or the product of evolution? Are they transcendent or are they rooted within the nature of our inner beast that also spawns evil, violence and hate?

"What has happened to me?" Kafka's Gregor Samsa asks himself upon awakening from a night of restless dreams and a strange transformation into a revolting pest that is weak and must be squashed out by his family and their lodgers. Gregor Samsa escapes his meaningless, alienated droll life of isolation and self-sacrifice by de-evolving into a helpless insect. Though Kafka's historical setting of the early modern age is long past, the same effects of our advancing society are felt by people of each generation. Our young people, flowering during an economic crisis, without work and purpose are as marginalized and stifled as Kafka's Gregor.

On the surface all mankind has achieved has made things better except that the ancient yearnings of the rational man remain unsettled. Unlike Kafka's pessimistic exploration of the existential and metaphysical issues of humanity, society and our world, Rice has a more optimistic view. Whereas Gregor's metamorphism is into powerlessness and a regression of evolution, Reuben's is one of empowerment and awakening. Gregor's alienation comes from his meaningless enslaving self-sacrifice to support his family whereas Reuben's comes from his lukewarmness to life rooted in one of luxury and infinite opportunities he does not grasp. Gregor experiences de-evolution into a helpless bug squashed by a world rejecting his human suffering. Reuben evolves and is transformed into something perhaps higher and more powerful than man can experience but none less dangerous to us.

Though Kafka and Rice decide to transform their heros into opposite things, they none-the-less share the same unanswered questions and leave the reader to think about them. Gregor dies as he lived and Reuben receives a gift of immortality and youth as he died. The question remains for readers of both if either depiction solves the moral, ethical, metaphysical and existential issues of mankind. Or are they better not solved by a human author?

Kafka and Rice make no great claims to the hidden truth and answer. They both shock us into reexamining ourselves, our premises, our views of humanity and the cosmos, and to awaken within us both the agony and ecstasy of being truly human.

When I received "The Wolf Gift" my receptionist, after reading on the back cover "The Queen of Horror is Back..." asked me if the book was scary. I replied "only if you think about what she has to say."
Truly, Ms. Rice has taken a genre so recently abused and elevated it to higher things. It is where she is at home, exploring her questions and taking her spiritual and intellectual journey. This is evidenced by the obvious wealth of research and knowledge displayed by the author. "Horror" is a misrepresentation of what Ms. Rice offers us. And if there is "horror" it lies within as we look into ourselves through these strange creatures and worlds the author has created. And she manages to do these things with grace, tact and sensitivity that reach readers of all backgrounds, ages and sophistication. That is the true gift.

* Reviewers Note: I received "The Wolf Gift" as a gift of love without the expectation of a review.
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103 of 117 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
**Review copy received from publisher**
In the beautiful forest of Northern California, the young reporter Reuben visits the family home of wealthy older woman Marchent. After her uncle disappeared under mysterious circumstances, and with both parents dead, Marchent has decided to sell the house and wants Reuben to write an article to help publicize the mansion. Reuben, wealthy in his own right, falls in love with the home, and plans to offer to buy it when he and Marchent are attacked. Marchent is killed, as are her two druggie brothers who instigated the attack, and Reuben is left bitten by the animal that saved him. It becomes clear that he was bitten by a werewolf and now has the power to transform into a powerful beast. He hears the cries of victims around San Francisco, and can smell the evil that he seeks to destroy.

When I saw that Anne Rice had written a werewolf book, I was very excited. I began reading her Vampire Chronicles when I was in high school, and have read the Mayfair Witches books and some of her other one-off novels as well. I always really enjoyed her writing, although the last book I'd read of hers, Blackwood Farm, was pretty darn bad. However, now that I've read The Wolf Gift, I'd rather have read Blackwood Farm over again.

The main thing that drove me crazy about this book is the affected tone. The writing, the characters, all of it, it all sounds like the voice of a wealthy 70 year old woman. Other reviews I've read have praised this book for being firmly rooted in the 21st century. I disagree. While there's plenty of mention of genetics, iPods, cell phones, and laptops, these modern references rub harshly against the antique syntax and vocabulary of the narrative. Honestly, this story reads much like something out of the mid-19th century. And while it's nice to see an author pay homage to classics of the gothic and horror genres, it just didn't work here.

As for characters, there were none I could related to in this book. Everybody has money, and I just could not feel sorry for anybody who is so vastly wealthy because of money they gained through inheritance. Reuben doesn't need his job as a newspaper reporter, and inevitably seems to abandon it. Marchent seems to have all the money in the world, and thinks nothing of leaving a vast mansion to a man she only just met. Even the boy that Reuben saves later in the book is a the son of an actress. It's funny that in the current Occupy environment we'd be presented with a novel in which every major character is independently wealthy. It strikes me as very out of touch with the main audience of this book.

There's romance, too, and it also sat oddly with me. Twice, Reuben sleeps with women he only just met, although he is engaged. The second time was the more bizarre, as he is in his "Man Wolf" form and sees a young woman who is all too happy to immediately jump into bed with him, even though he's a WEREWOLF. Really, Anne Rice!? And the thought of the girl making out with his dog lips made me want to gag.

As for the plot, it was pretty weak. At no point did I feel that Reuben was in any real trouble, never did I feel a sense of danger. On the contrary, most of the first half of the book felt like a Spiderman rip off. Young man is bitten by a strange creature that alters his DNA and gives super powers to stop bad guys. He leaps from rooftop to rooftop throughout the city rescuing those in need. The newspaper he works for makes him report on the new Man Wolf. He becomes a folk hero, with people writing songs for him and selling t-shirts. Sounds like Stan Lee could use some royalties.

I think it's clear from what I've sad that I was gravely disappointed in this book and struggled to finish it. The ending is anti-climatic, so even that let me down. I will think hard before reading another new Anne Rice book. With her, it's probably best to stick with the classics.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Perhaps it's not fair to compare this latest work of Ann Rice with her Vampire and Witch Cronicles, but having read and thoroughly enjoyed all of the books in both of those series, it was hard not to. I feel that Wolf Gift merits three stars - I enjoyed going to it each time I picked it up, but felt a bit deflated once I had finished it. Ms. Rice is unquestionably a terrific writer - Interview with the Vampire is among the top five books I've ever read. Her Vampire and Witch chronicles introduced us to dynamic, multi-layered characters. Not so much in this latest work. I was very excited to see her take on Werewolves/Man Wolf in this story - however, it was tough to really get into or identify with the leading characters. They don't pull you in as deliciously evil or mischievous, broodinly conflicted, or really even sympathetic. It's easy to identify with Louis, or Michael Curry, or to enjoy Lestat's mischeivous antics. Yet Rueben Golding doesn't give you much to grab onto. He is a 23 year old man of privilege, tall, handsome and way smart beyond his years (unrealistically so - he has a Masters Degree in English at the ripe old age of 23?). When Reuben receives the "Wolf Gift" everything swimmingly goes his way. His brother the Priest is the vehicle that allows Reuben to wrestle with the whole good versus evil for his actions when he is the Man-Wolf, but its rather a superficial consideration of these important questions. Brutally killing evil doers to make the world a better place has been explored many times, with a much greater (and more interesting) depth then this story, such as the Japanese "Death Note" Manga and animated series, or even the Spawn comic book and animated series. Reuben never really suffers any setbacks from receiving the wolf gift; there are never any real consequences to his actions, he beds two different women pretty quickly, inherits a house worth millions, and meets a bunch of really nice (and one not so nice but quickly dispatched) immortals. When I reached the end, I felt a bit cheated. As you can tell from a number of the reviews here, many of Ms. Rice's fans loved this story. I don't intend to dissuade you from reading this book - just don't expect a new chronicle series that is in the same league as the Vampire and Mayfair Witches chronicles.
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141 of 164 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Anne Rice is back with classic Gothic horror story telling which her long time loyal fans have been missing since Anne's own inner rediscovery which redefined her writing for many years. With The Wolf Gift, Anne returns to the dark side to examine the story of the werewolf.

Reuben Golding is a dashing young journalist whose magnificent reporting is quickly garnering the attention of the public. His new assignment is to report on the luxurious coastal mansion of wealthy traveler Felix Nideck, who disappeared twenty years ago and left his grand home and vast artifacts to his niece. The home is up for sale and Reuben is anxious to get a glimpse of the inside and to interview the beautiful caretaker, Marchent. During his stay, the house is compromised and Reuben, though spared, is attacked by a large beast.

After a quick recovery, Reuben finds his strength has doubled and his hearing has become more keen. His eyes are more vibrant. His skin shines. And then, one night, the real transformation begins! Reuben explores his new powers almost superhero-like, attacking criminals who he happens upon during his prowl and ultimately saving several victims from their demise, who then become eager to spread the news of a man wolf who saved their life. The story of a vigilante beast quickly spreads, overshadowing the kidnapping of a bus full of school children.

Torn between what to report on, the missing kids or the wolf hero, Reuben ends up having the Nideck estate left to him. He soon begins to obsess over researching the bizarre gift that's been bestowed upon him, answers which he believes will be revealed to him in the history and darkness that lies in the halls of the mansion tucked away high on a bluff in the redwood forest.

Those familiar with Anne's body of work and the trials of her own personal spiritual journey will appreciate the tortured soul in Reuben as he turns to his brother, who is a priest, for absolution and guidance. Reuben, like many of us in life, asks "why?" Why does this have to happen to us? And those who believe know it is just God's plan. It is better to accept than question, and so his journey for answers begins. This is definitely a book with soul.

Religious undertones, self-discovery, a love story, and even a creepy old mansion reminiscent of The Witching Hour, The Wolf Gift has all the traditional elements readers have grown to love from Anne's writing. Anne Rice has a gift for putting her readers in the story. Her rich detail, from the library of the Nideck home to the transformation of Reuben into the man wolf, pulls you in and keeps the pages turning. For those caught up in the pop culture wolf story that this generation's books and movies have choked us with, she has not reinvented the story of the werewolf here. She has just given it a new perspective and a new appreciation.

As Rice points out in the text, in books and on the screen, wolves have mainly been pained by their transformation, only to slaughter their victims rather than feed on them, only to end up hunted and killed by the infamous silver bullet. What kind of life is that? Like her vampires and witches that we fell in love with in the 90s, Anne shows compassion and sympathy for her protagonist. She makes him handsome, instead of making him a monstrosity. We see his inner struggle of man vs. monster. We fall in love with him. And we feel his pain.

And that is the beauty of an Anne Rice book. Consider this one a gift!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Before I begin this review, I have to mention a few things. I have read several reviews both here on Amazon and on Goodreads and I have to say people do not get it. They do not get this book; they read drivel like 50 Shades of Grey or any novel in the Twilight Saga and believe that those books are decent examples of supernatural and/or erotic literature. They are not. For every person that is grossed out by "icky" Morphenkind/Human sexual relations or turned off on the entire novel because the main character begins the story by cheating on his girlfriend... This book is not for you. If you cannot understand the mythological context of werewolf as basic primal human sexuality, this book is not for you. If you are so virtuous and naive to believe that good people don't find love in peculiar places. Then this book is not for you. Frankly, I don't see how anyone who has ever read an Anne Rice book would be shocked at any of these events.

I consider myself an Anne Rice fan, though I have not read all of her books. I stopped the Vampire Chronicles in the middle of Memnoch the Devil. It was clear she was having a religious epiphany and I did not want my beloved characters forces into it with her. I read the Lives of the Mayfair witches through most of Taltos. I picked up Pandora, Merrick and Blood and Gold and longed to find out what happened when the characters met in the crossovers books. I have yet to go back and find them. So, I chose the Wolf Gift to begin my new journey with Anne.

I am glad I did. While it is true that Anne's writing has changed over the years, I don't think that this change detracts from her ability to tell a great story. I am not going to go into a recap of the story here; you can find that information on a book jacket or in any number of the other reviews on this site.

What I can say is that she has drawn us into the world of the Morphenkind by introducing us to Reuben Golding. A young man, who is obviously living in the wrong time, he is wise beyond his years and drawn into the mystery of Nideck Point, a large property that carries with it many secrets.

Now, as someone who has not grown up privileged, like Reuben, I still found it easy to relate to him. He is intrigued by mythology and literature and by the world that came before him. It was easy to see how someone could lose themselves in a mysterious house, even before the tragedy that befalls him, which ultimately changes his life forever.

I am a lover of mythology, especially supernatural mythology and have done my own academic research on werewolf mythology. I found it refreshing that she turned this genre on its head, by not including many of the recently created tropes associated with werewolf folklore. There was no lunar cycle, no silver bullet. Anne is known for her impeccable research into a topic before writing and you can tell she did it here.

The only con I found in reading this novel was that there is some echo of her vampire mythology hiding in these pages. How can there not be. You have immortal creatures, who must kill as a means of survival. There is the struggle between good and evil...as always.

I, for one, cannot wait until October 2013, when the sequel is released. I want to know more about the Morphenkind and their adventures throughout history.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I have not been a werewolf or vampire fan since Lon Chaney and Bella Lugosi gave me chills as a young boy, so I had not been an Anne Rice fan either. Then because I liked biographies and she was famous, I read hers to find that like me she was cured of alcoholism, lost a spouse, and became a serious Christian in midlife. Then to my surprise, I found she had written two historical novels about the early life of Jesus. I had to read these, and was hooked - going on to read her Songs of the Seraphim series. Now I too am a fan and wanted very much to see a third book on Jesus' life. So, initially, I was quite disappointed to see instead the "Wolf Gift" coming out. However when, in answer to a question on Face Book, she assured us that this book will not just be Lon Chaney grimacing at the full moon, but will have some depth, I repented and read it.

It indeed has some depth; in fact, it has everything. Everything that a reader expecting thrills and chills could want, enough supernatural super hero activities to satisfy the action minded, enough scientific explanation (in the Dean Koontz mode) to mollify those who cannot abide straight magic, and enough philosophy and theology to not disappoint those Anne Rice fans of her spiritual era, like me. Along that line is an included quote by Tielhard de Chardin that seems to me to encapsulate the almost hidden philosophical line running through the book: "I believe that the universe is an evolution. I believe that evolution proceeds toward spirit. I believe that spirit is fully realized in the form of personality. I believe that the supremely personal is the Universal Christ."- a lot to think about there. All this, plus transformation into wolves and back again, the tearing and eating of raw flesh, and a couple of serious love stories would be a challenge for any writer, but is ably handled by Anne Rice, including her beautiful settings of the scenes, taking place mostly in a huge and ancient mansion set in the California Redwoods.

I see movie written all over this tale. More than that, I see a Wolf Gift series, because the last chapter reads not so much like a conclusion as like an introduction to more stories. I hope so. (But I do miss the Jesus stories.)
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