Book Review: The Wolf Gift By Anne Rice
Reuben Golding is a young reporter for a local San Francisco newspaper who visits a secluded, historic mansion set in the ancient woods of the Northern California coast to publicize its upcoming sale. The enormous structure, which sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, is steeped in mystery and romance and houses priceless books and artifacts.
The young man is not only drawn to the magnificent house and its contents, but also to the beautiful wife of a man who mysteriously disappeared twenty years before. During Reuben’s brief stay, he falls in love with the seductive, older woman in spite of his plans to marry a young lawyer and decides to buy the house for himself. A vicious attack by a large beast interrupts the bliss and lovemaking and leaves the owner and two others and Reuben fighting for his life from lethal injuries.
During his recovery, Ruben discovers his life threatening wounds are healing with uncanny speed, and his senses are becoming incredibly more acute. He can hear people talking and smell the gum they are chewing blocks away. Subsequently, he is overcome by the desperate pleas of innocent victims in peril and transforms into a werewolf much to the chagrin of the inept bad guys who he tears limb from limb without breaking a sweat.
In no time, Reuben decides his ability to transform into a wolf man is more a gift and a curse.
This is the first Anne Rice novel I have read. I found her writing style excellent, her characters, well-developed and her plot compelling enough to hold my attention throughout the book.
The wolf man in this story is a Dexter-like killer who relishes ravaging murderers with ravenous enjoyment. He cannot wait to hear the pitiful cries in the night with his miraculous selective hearing so he can throw his weight around and save the day. And he does not need the full moon to get hairy and long in the tooth.
Reuben as the man wolf becomes a death wish kind of vigilante hero to the general public. Despite his repeated M.O. of leaving half-eaten bodies and body parts in his wake, he has endearing eyewitnesses and idolizing fans cheering him on as he fights for the right against evil forces. The city showers him with praise as their wolf man becomes the San Francisco equivalent to Gotham City’s Batman in bringing murdering psychopaths to justice.
Unlike the simple werewolf stories and the movies of the past, which mostly address good and evil, Anne Rice’s powerful story delves into religion, philosophy, morality, law and order, eroticism, manhood, feral masculinity, and other complex themes of the human condition.
Reuben’s mother sees him as a sweet boy. His initial girlfriend sees him as a mama’s boy who can’t seem to break away from the nest and test his own wings. His subsequent squeeze prefers the wooly, rock hard sex machine, bristling with fangs and claws in her bed. A real beast of a man able to leap tall buildings and redwoods with a single bound and rip villains limbs off with one hairy arm tied behind him.
As Reuben learns how to control his transformations, he no longer feels comfortable in his original pretty boy skin. He much prefers soaring through the trees like a souped up Tarzan with a slab of bear between his teeth with his woman riding along on his back.
The backdrop for Anne’s beautifully romantic, and yet gruesome tale is the dark, magnificent Gothic mansion with its infinite nooks and crannies, trap doors, secret chambers and massive gable roofs. The time is winter. The weather is cold and damp with rolling fogs and bone chilling mist. The forest surrounding the mansion is filled with redwood trees soaring over two hundred feet into the air. A perfect place for a midnight romp by a wolf man and his mate.
There is a lot more to this story than I have mentioned. There are more werewolves for Reuben to deal with, lawyers who want to keep him out of trouble, mad professors who want to capture and study him, loved ones who are worried about him with various agendas, policemen who want to kill or incarcerate him, and so much more Anne has graciously included for your reading pleasure.