Werewolves, Ghosts & A Christmas Ball: The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice

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The tale of THE WOLF GIFT continues . . .

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

WWW Wednesday (30/10/2013)

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

I have had a serious lull in reading this past week or, I just can’t seem to stick with anything. It happens sometimes. I don’t think it’s a reflection on the books, I’ve just not been in the mood. Hopefully, it won’t last long!

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

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Currently Reading: The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice. I’m still reading this and have barely even scratched the surface. Last week I didn’t get much reading time, and this week I just haven’t been feeling it. But it’s a NetGalley review so I will persevere. I also picked up City of Ashes which is a reread. I thought something light and familiar would help me get back in the mood…I’ll get back to you on that one.

Recently Finished: I finished Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes (Review here) and I didn’t finish Good Omens.

I was travelling at the weekend and you know what the worst thing EVER is? When you’re stuck on a 4 hour train journey with a book that you don’t want to read. Seriously, I think I have some hidden hatred for Neil Gaiman or something because I just CAN NOT READ HIS BOOKS. The only one I managed to get through without hating was Stardust. I tried really hard to get into Good Omens but it just sounded like the ramblings of two mad men to me and I gave up just past the 100 page mark.

Up Next: Hopefully I can get geared up for this ARC of Orbital Kin by James E. Parsons!

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After an unusual disease breaks out and begins to threaten the country, a group of postgraduate students at a British university focus their research upon it, aiming to find out the cause and the cure.
The experimentations move out to space stations soon enough, in hope of a cure being produced while more mysterious events take place. The two graduate students find success, breakthroughs and the sudden spreading illness takes them in directions they never expected.
Can university graduates Steven and Alan save the country from the spread of the disease? Only time will tell…
(Synopsis from Goodreads)

Leave a comment with your link and I’ll check them out!

WWW Wednesday! (23/10/2013)

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

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Currently Reading: Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes, (I might have finished this by the time this post goes out – it’s been good!) and The Wolves of Midwinter (The Wolf Gift #2) by Anne Rice.

Recently Finished: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, which I loved. Read my review here.

Up Next: Probably Good Omens, which I’ve been meaning to read for AGES. I famously find it hard to ‘get into’ Neil Gaiman’s books even though I love the stories he tells, there’s something about his writing style that I don’t get on with. But I’m hoping this collaboration with Terry Pratchett will be different.

You can check out the other books I’m reading for Horror October Here.

Leave a comment with the link to your post, or your books this week and I’ll be sure to take a look!

Coming Soon!

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Title: Let the Games Begin
Author:Niccolò Ammaniti
Details: Translated
Expected Publication: 1st August 2013 by Canongate Books

In Let the Games Begin, internationally best-selling author Niccolò Ammaniti, winner of the prestigious Strega Prize, fuses a riotous dose of anarchic absurdity with a clear-eyed critique of contemporary society caught in a narcissistic spiral of longing and striving.

It begins on the night of the most decadent party of the century. A rags-to-riches real estate magnate has planned an over-the-top weekend safari for the who’s-who of celebrities at his sprawling residence in Villa Ada—once a public park, now the largest private home in Rome. Starlets, politicians, soccer stars, and intellectuals all turn up to rub elbows. Among them is a neurotically charming author struggling to write his next literary tome and pining for renewed recognition. In an unexpected turn of events, he crosses paths with The Wilde Beasts of Abaddon, a satanic sect planning to ruin the evening’s festivities in order to go down in history as a world-famous cult. What was intended as the most spectacular fête of the year quickly descends into apocalyptic chaos. In this satirical tragicomedy, Ammaniti reveals a side of modern culture riddled with superficiality and vulgarity that nourishes our deepest dreams and insecurities.

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Title: The Wolves of Midwinter (The Wolf Gift Chronicles #2)
Author: Anne Rice
Details: Hardback
Expected Publication: November 7th 2013 by Random House UK, Vintage Publishing

It is the beginning of December and it is cold and grey outside. In the stately flickering hearths of the grand mansion of Nideck Point, oak fires are burning. The Morphenkinder are busy getting ready for the ancient pagan feast of midwinter. Everyone is invited, including some of their own who do not wish them well…

Reuben Golding, the newest of the Morphenkinder, is struggling with his new existence as a Man Wolf, struggling to learn to control his desires and bloodthirsty urges. His pure, luminous girlfriend Laura seems all set to join him in this new way of life, but Reuben is not at all certain he will love her if she becomes as he is. Beyond the mansion, the forest echoes with howling winds, which carry with them tales of a strange nether world, and of spirits – centuries old – who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and taunt with their dark, magical powers.

As preparations for the feast gather pace, destiny continues to hound Reuben, not least in the form of a strange, tormented ghost who appears at the window, unable to speak. But he is not alone: before the festivities are over, choices must be made – choices which will decide the fate of the Morphenkinder for ever.

I’m really excited about both of these!