Author: T.J. Klune
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 06/20/2016
Length: Long Novel (~ 100K+)
Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.
It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.
Epic and awesome. TJ Klune produces his very first werewolf romance and knocks it out of the park.
Oxnard Matheson, fifteen: big, dumb and deemed worthless by the father who abandoned him and his mother when he was twelve.
Until a ten-year-old tornado named Joe Bennett discovers him and gives him a small stone carving of a wolf.
Klune has crafted a book of generous proportions and monumental emotions. It is a family saga that covers something over a decade, set in an isolated town in rural Oregon. It is written with all of the intensity, angst and flashes of wry humor that we have come to expect from TJ Klune. It has much of the use of rhythmic, repetitive verbal motifs that typify his style, and revolves around a main character who, aside from being much more than he thinks he is, overthinks everything. One of the many joys of reading this book was the slow awakening of Ox’s self-awareness; his emerging belief that he might just be something special after all.
We are also given what is, for me, the most beautifully crafted description of what a werewolf pack might be like that I’ve ever encountered. There are many familiar tropes here, taken from the burgeoning world of wolf-shifter fiction. But Klune somehow uses all of these formulaic bits and pieces to create a vibrant, intimate portrait of a family—a pack—in which the wolfish attributes and behaviors are every bit as important as the human ones. Anyone who has ever owned a dog and paid attention to how it relates to their family understands something of pack behavior. Klune translates this beautifully onto the page, manipulating our emotions as only he can; by turns frustrating and cathartic, dragging us to the very last sentence of this remarkable love story.
One stumbling block in this book, while it did not affect my rating, nonetheless marred my enjoyment overall. There is an M/F plot arc between Ox and a girl named Jessie. For me, it came out of nowhere and felt forced throughout the book. It seemed that Klune had introduced Jessie’s character as a distraction, a sort of sexual misdirection, and then spent the rest of the story trying to integrate her character. The fact that I was never fully convinced may be simply my own personal baggage. As a Kinsey 6 for life, sexual fluidity in supposedly gay characters doesn’t have any appeal for me at all. It feels like a betrayal, frankly. Interestingly, this is the way Joe feels about it as well: “I Just don’t see why she needs to be near you. Or in your pack. Or alive.” I wondered if Klune himself might have been ambivalent, but felt he needed to make a statement. The world of M/M fiction has gotten very political in the last year, after all.
That said, I plowed through this book in just a few days in spite of a full-time job and the demands of family at home. It is compelling, wonderfully written, emotionally saturating, and just plain fascinating.
And there are hints that there might be more to come. shiver
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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