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Nadya: The Wolf Chronicles
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Nadya is a young woman in the American mid-west 150 years ago. She is werewolf: one night during the full moon she changes into a wolf and lives wild for that night. She is isolated from her society, but not her family, and because of this, she is able to become who she really is in a trek that takes her to the west coast and a new life there.
The author provides vivid descriptions of the experiences Nadya faced in making the trek westward in the 1840s. You feel yourself being carried across an arid landscape on a rickety wagon and on through the snowy Rockies (facing all kinds of hazards and overcoming them) with Nadya, Elizabeth, and Jenny.
One touching scene in the book is when Nadya as a Wolf (having been spurned earlier in the day by Elizabeth, who has never felt right about her romantic attachment to Nadya) allows herself to be mated with a male Wolf. In that moment, you experience Nadya's joy at that moment of orgasmic release as she howls ecstatically to the skies.
For those readers seeking a werewolf novel full of gore and gratuitous violence, you won't find it here. But if you want to read a well-told tale about the life and experiences of a female werewolf in 19th century America, you've come to the right place.
This is not a young person's story. It's filled with sex and violence, love and hate, and reality.
Pat Murphy eases us into the story. We sympathize with these people as people first. They are wolves only as an afterthought. It's a technique I have seen Ms. Murphy use elsewhere as well. The effect is dazzling. By the end of the story, you identify so strongly with Nadya, your every reaction hangs on her fate.
I do have a few bones to pick. Various descriptions and experineces become redundant. The Change, for example. The first time it was described in detail, I found the description fascinating. By half through, I groaned through the process. By the end, I knew the ritual so well I felt like I could Change myself, and even the two or three short sentences used to describe it then were too much. The sex scenes followed a similar pattern. Nadya's first sexual experience, described in vibrant detail, kept me on the edge of my seat, because of the surrounding circumstances. Her second was more information than I needed to know. The third was boring. By the tenth or twentieth--I lost count--I just felt like wretching. Really, I didn't need that much detail.
My biggest gripe is that there's no epilogue. Yes, there's something at the end called "Epilogue," but that's not what I mean. I mean there's no ending to the story. After the climax and resolution of the story, it cuts off. Not even an "And they lived happily ever after." No closure.
But don't let any of these stop you from reading this book. Go out and beg, borrow, or steal a copy. It'll be worth it.
The book follows Nadya, a werewolf during her life in the late 1800's, from her birth in the Midwest to her trek across country to California and settling in the Pacific Northwest. A variety of characters come and go, but very little plot is developed- in many ways it's more of a travelog than a novel. Each part (Growing up, travel, and life in the Northwest) is basically self contained, without any carryovers from bit to bit, so you end up feeling like the book is a series of short stories.
Worse, it's a series of short stories with the same, almost nonexistant plot. Nadya meets evil people who don't like wolves and good people who do, and survives despite the bad people. The third time around is just dull and predictable- you know as soon as she finds happiness with good people who like wolves, shortly evil people who don't will move nearby.
The book would be far more interesting if the evil characters were better written. Each is stamped from a mold: Evil people don't like wolves, are racists who want to kill Indians, treat women badly and log forests. None is the least bit sympathetic- we're given not a single redeeming quality in the vast majority. (At least the preacher in the first section is a bit better written.) The good guys are stamped from the mirror of the mold: each loves wolves, lives in harmony with nature, accepts all races and treats women as equals. After being hammered over the head with the same stereotypes again and again, you simply stop caring about the characters.
I hope that this book is just an abberation: Murphy can (and has) written far better.