Reuben Golding, golden boy and young reporter for the San Francisco Observer, comes from a very wealthy family. His father is a retired professor with a taste for poetry, his mother is a high-profile physician, his older brother is a priest, and his girlfriend is a successful attorney. He got his job at the newspaper thanks to his parents’ influential connections and, although a very talented and promising writer in the journalistic field, Reuben thinks he hasn’t achieved anything outstanding in his life. He is assigned to write an article about a huge and beautiful estate located in a remote area of Northern California: the Nideck property, a splendid mansion by the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by acres and acres of luxurious and isolated redwoods.
The home is on the market for sale and in order to survey it, Reuben meets the owner, the beautiful and worldly Marchent Nideck. The sophisticated, well-traveled Marchent and the handsome Reuben are immediately drawn to each other. For some reason, despite the impervious location and the remoteness and seclusion of the place, Reuben falls in love with the house and wishes to buy it for himself. He ends up inheriting it, just before being killed by her intoxicated brothers, Marchent made sure to contact her lawyers and have the property passed to the young reporter who had shown interest and admiration for the mansion and all the treasures it contained.
While trying to save Marchent from her brothers’ homicidal fury, Reuben gets attacked and bitten by an unidentified wolfish creature. The same creature will kill Marchent’s brothers but will spare Reuben’s life. After the attack, he experiences a hormonal surge and growth spurt (rather strange for his 23 years of age) and emotional restlessness. That’s not all–his senses are enhanced and he starts hearing voices coming from a great distance and begging for help. The young reporter seems to have developed special antennae and an inner radar that senses when people are in distress. Most amazingly, he can smell and track down evil. In matter of days, his new sensibility triggers a physical transformation–not the moon phases, but the pleas of innocent people in danger will cause him to transform into a werewolf and rescue them. The mutation will increase the emotional distance between Reuben, his family and his girlfriend. He is a new man now, fated and claimed by his new nature.
Anne Rice’s spin on the legend of the werewolf bridges her Gothic writer roots with the religious inclinations and philosophical pondering of her latest production. The novel features a strong romantic twist when Reuben meets his mate in the beautiful and sweet Laura. I have given The Wolf Gift five stars certainly for the plot, although quite unoriginal in its take of the ancient wolf-man myth, but mostly for the metaphysical depths and philosophical issues it raises.
“Our way–the Western Way–has always been a work in progress. Questions of life and death, good and evil, justice and tragedy–these are never definitively settled, but must be addressed again and again as personal and public worlds shift and change. We hold our morals to be absolutes, but the context of our actions and decisions is forever changing.”
The Verdict: In her trademark controversial, thought-provoking, and allegorical sort of way, Rice shines a spotlight on what modern society labels a “monstrosity,” on those fine lines our culture draws between good and evil, right and wrong, gift and curse. The metaphysical undertones and the fetching supernatural plot are a sheer pleasure to read. The book ends with a huge cliffhanger, literally, but we are only two seasons away from the release of the anticipated sequel. The Wolves Of Midwinter: The Wolf Gift Chronicles is due on October 15, 2013.
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Vintage/Anchor Books
Author: Anne Rice