Some books are a gift to read; while others are a gift you’d only give to your worst enemy.
The new book “The Wolf Gift” by Anne Rice is the latter. It breaks away from Rice’s usual vampires and witches fare into the new territory of werewolves. It mainly centers on Rueben, a 23-year-old man who is melancholy about his life.
An article for his newspaper about an old historical house sends him on a journey that begins with the person he’s interviewing being murdered by her two brothers. A large wolf-like animal then almost certainly fatally wounds him.
What happens next is surprisingly boring, despite the premise. Thanks to that attack, Rueben transforms into a werewolf at night that “hates evil” and can literally smell it on people. He helps people who find themselves the victims of evil acts, like a furry Batman.
The main problems with the story are twofold: The plot and the characters are boring. While turning into a werewolf might be interesting in itself, it can’t carry a story where the only interesting thing that ever happens is that someone turns into a werewolf.
There are subplots about the newspaper Rueben works for tracking his werewolf deeds, and there’s another dealing with the source of his lycanthropy, but ultimately, at the end of the day, it’s all uninteresting and never really picks up to be a book where you’d want to see the next page, much less a gripping page-turner.
Astute readers may notice that the only character mentioned by name so far in this review is the main one, Rueben. Yes, he’s the focus of the book, but even so he takes up so much screen time that all the other characters are pushed aside and are portrayed as flat as boards. That wouldn’t be so bad if he were interesting, but his reaction to everything is muted as if he were just an outside observer.
That’s really an underlying theme of the book; the fact that no one really seems to care about anything, leading to no conflict. Sure, the characters worry over things, but there’s never a sense they really care about what’s happening and just end up going with the flow. The lack of any tension whatsoever doesn’t help either.
It’s really a shame, too. Rice did excellent work with her vampire and witch novels, judging by how popular they are, and werewolves are often the unloved of the gothic creatures. Unfortunately turning them into the Batman of gothic creatures isn’t the way to bring them back to their former glory.