Anne Rice of the famous Vampire Chronicles is back, but this time she has put her fangs away and comes baring claws.
In The Wolf Gift Rice introduces her latest hero, Reuben - reporter, would-be philosopher and werewolf. The novel opens with the momentous meeting between Reuben and Marchant Nideck, the beautiful proprietress of the secluded Nideck estate. Following a brief, but seemingly earth-shattering, romantic dalliance, events take a turn for the bloody. Reuben becomes the unlikely benefactor of the ‘wolf gift’ and Anne Rice’s werewolf is born.
As a werewolf, Reuben uses his new-found strength to become a superhero of sorts, defending the city from the evil intent he now smells everywhere. He is a thinking creature, capable of, somewhat forced, philosophical discussion and conscious of his actions. This allows Rice certain story-telling advantages, but also creates some quite farcical scenarios - the werewolf texting on his iPhone or re-hanging his front-door come to mind.
The characters are fairly one-dimensional, providing little more than stereotypical portrayals of sensitive hero, concerned mother, understanding girlfriend, tragic lover etc. Although Rice does take particular pains to remind us how attractive Reuben is (it seems that no one, from colleagues to the family lawyer can resist the urge to tell him how beautiful they find him), this does little to contribute to character development.
The real star of the book is the mythology surrounding Marchant’s mysterious, missing uncle Felix Nideck. Rice peppers the narrative with enough titbits of information on the Nideck history to pique the reader’s interest and keep us turning those pages. This is sure to mark the beginning of a new saga for Rice and is equally sure to the guilty pleasure for many a fantasy horror fan. Cliché characters? Maybe. Unlikely scenarios? Perhaps. Pure escapism? Absolutely!