Wolfsangel merges the worlds of Norse mythology and werewolves. Werewolves may have had a bad press lately from non-teens following the Twilight saga, but thankfully this book is free of sparkling vampires, denim shorts-wearing teenwolves and drippy heroines.
What I really liked about this book was that the main storyline was very grounded in reality. The characters don’t have amazing magical abilities ‘just because’ and for every strength, the characters have a balancing weakness. The frailty of the human condition is very clearly and accurately expressed. When the plot demands certain distances are travelled, it takes time and effort. When conflict occurs, the winner doesn’t bound off into the sunset unscathed. This realism, combined with the northern backdrop makes for a story with a refreshingly bleak outlook. It’s clear all the way through that death is never far away, even for the incidental characters survival is an achievement rather than an assumption.
The characters are well-rounded and with the majority of the lead characters, you find yourself liking them in spite of yourself. You know you probably shouldn’t but they have a certain charm. The best parallel I can think of to explain this is in Romeo and Juliet, when you can see the stupid things that Romeo and Mercutio et al are doing and you want to scream at them not to because you know it will end disastrously but even when they go ahead you can’t help but hope that this time it will turn out differently and all be ok.
The other interesting point in this book is the exploration of how distinct the boundaries between dreams and reality are – what makes something real or imagined? And if something is imagined, does that mean it has no power in the real world? Rooted in Norse mythology, in the these questions are the domain of the trickster gods and in this respect there are parallels with Neil Gaiman’s American Gods in terms of plot if not setting and narrative. (I can’t explain this more fully without big spoilers so you’ll have to read it to see what I mean!)
The dreamlike feel increases as the novel progresses and is especially strong towards the end-that-is-not-an-end, laying the path for the sequel, Fenrir, perfectly.
You’ll like this book if:
- You want a grown up reversioning of the werewolf myth
- You like historical novels but aren’t sure if fantasy as a genre is too unrealistic
- You like Norse mythology
- You’re interested in books that explore human relationships, what makes us human and what limits a person can be pushed to
You won’t like this book if:
- You’re on Team Jacob
- You think norse-influenced books should always include orcs, wizards and shires
- You like your fantasy novels to resemble cowboy westerns with typical good guys and bad guys