As lush and romantic in detail and atmosphere as it is sleek and steely in storytelling, Anne Rice brings us once again to the rugged coastline of Northern California, to the grand mansion at Nideck Point—to further explore the unearthly education of her transformed Man Wolf.
The novel opens on a cold, gray landscape. It is the beginning of December. Oak fires are burning in the stately flickering hearths of Nideck Point. It is Yuletide. For Reuben Golding, now infused with the wolf gift and under the loving tutelage of the Morphenkinder, this Christmas promises to be like no other . . . as he soon becomes aware that the Morphenkinder, steeped in their own rituals, are also celebrating the Midwinter Yuletide festival deep within Nideck forest.
From out of the shadows of the exquisite mansion comes a ghost—tormented, imploring, unable to speak yet able to embrace and desire with desperate affection . . . As Reuben finds himself caught up with the passions and yearnings of this spectral presence and the preparations for the Nideck town Christmas reach a fever pitch, astonishing secrets are revealed, secrets that tell of a strange netherworld, of spirits—centuries old—who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and taunt with their dark, magical powers . . .
Before I start this review I have some confessions to make. Firstly, I requested this from NetGalley thinking I would have time to read the first book in the series beforehand – I did not. And secondly, those of you who have read some of my previous posts will know that I just was not in the mood to read ANYTHING for like two weeks. Major book funk.
So, it’s quite hard to review this objectively. It has never taken me so long to read a 400 page book, and I honestly don’t know if it was because of my book funk, or because I just couldn’t get into it.
But, I can tell you one thing for sure, Anne Rice writes beautifully.
From what I’ve read about the first book, The Wolf Gift, Reuben, a young reporter heads to the magnificent mansion Nideck Point to interview a woman about the estate. While he’s there he is attacked by a group of Wolf Men and in turn, receives the Wolf Gift himself, becoming one of them, The Morphenkinder. He struggles with his new animalistic, vicious side throughout.
In The Wolves of Midwinter, Reuben is now the owner of Nideck Point, pursuing his love for Laura (who is in the midst of also becoming one of the Morphenkinder), and trying to keep the wolf attacks underwrap from the village.
There were things I liked in this book that convinced me to not give up on it despite really not being in the mood to read. For one, being set at Christmas is a big win for me this time of year. In the hopes of being accepted by the village, The Morphenkinder plan a grand Christmas ball. The descriptions of the lavish festivities, decorations and food had me seriously pining for Christmas and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
However, I was expecting something terrible to happen at the ball when it eventually came about, but it didn’t.
And that’s kind of the way this book went for me. I kept expecting things to happen but they just didn’t materialize. The main conflict in the story was that of Marchent, a ghost (who I assume was a main part of book 1) whom the Morphenkinder are being haunted by. They clearly loved her once, and seeing her ghost upsets them, especially Reuben who tries to help her despite being scared of her appearences. But that never really went anywhere either.
And then there’s Reuben’s Dad. I really enjoyed their relationship and thought it was quite refreshing to see a man’s relationship with his father in a genre like this. It doesn’t seem to happen very often. But, I found the rest a bit predictable – Reuben’s dad comes to stay with them at Nideck Point and he finds out that they are Werewolves. Didn’t see that one coming. And again, not much happens. It turns out that his dad already knew what he was and doesn’t care!
Overall, I think if I’d read this at a different time, and after having read the first book (usually helps) that I might have liked it a bit more, but there just wasn’t enough conflict or surprise in this for me. I loved Anne Rice’s style, and the beautiful way she has of describing her opulent worlds, but the story fell a bit flat.
Disclosure: I received a copy from the Publisher via Netgalley for an HONEST review. Many Thanks!
Details: Hardcover, 400 pages. Published November 7th 2013 by Chatto & Windus (Random House UK)
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Unicorns
If you liked this try: Second Nature by Alice Hoffman