After years of writing about vampires, witches and demons Anne Rice has turned her authorial eye on the werewolf myth. Set in the damp northern Californian city of San Francisco and its environs, over a period of a few months this 404 page novel attempts to explore the nature of good and evil, as the author does in ‘Interview with the Vampire’ and its subsequent series. As with the Vampire Chronicles Ms. Rice has built a world and history of a species that has its origins deep in human prehistory, in this case before the early cities of the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia.
It starts with a young ‘gentleman journalist’ falling in love with a house and its owner. Inheriting the house after a vicious attack that leaves him changed the journalist struggles to find his way. Luckily he meets a beautiful woman, falls in love, and finally finds guidance in the form of much older werewolves. It’s a coming of age novel with werewolves.
Okay, I’m really being succinct and I’ve missed out the big ‘adventure’ that provides all the action, but that’s because I found it a bit predictable. It was a fun read once I got into it. Unfortunately that’s the best I can say about it.
The characters are such stock archetypes I couldn’t really feel any sympathy for them. The hero is too good, always questioning himself, poetic, handsome, and wealthy; his mother is too much the protective superwoman with a brilliant career, his father the retired and retiring academic. His true love is so patient and perfect, his mentor so wise and good, the ‘bad guys’ are truly evil. In short, none of them felt real.
While the plot is good, it lacks any true excitement, one never feels the imperative to continue reading because one absolutely must, there is no feeling of doubt that the hero will overcome and there will be a ‘happily ever after’. Basically it doesn’t go for the throat. It took me almost two weeks to read, and for a book of just over 400 words that’s a long time by my standards.
The prose is at times poetic, especially when describing the freedom the werewolf feels running through the forests and hunting, but at other times it is heavy, clumsy almost. And she should never, ever again attempt to write ‘intimate’ scenes, they sound awful.
It feels like Ms. Rice is re-writing her old books with a different species, and more Catholicism. Theological and philosophical questions of good and evil enter the narrative right from the first chapter. I don’t have a problem with people allowing their religious feeling to influence their writing; I just don’t like it shoved down my throat in fiction. The theology and philosophy is too heavily laid on; instead of being a subtle background melody informing the narrative, it is more like someone wanders in every few pages to beat you about the head with some religious tract.
I liked it by and large, but it never reaches the eloquence or genius of ‘The Vampire Lestat’ or ‘Queen of the Damned’. There’s nothing original about the story but it was still a decent read, if nothing else is available. It’s a fairly good werewolf story, but Reuben Golding is forgettable where Lestat de Lioncourt is a genre-defining legend.
That’s all for now,