I have a weakness for werewolves stories.
I’ve read lots of non-wolf shifter stories too, but while I’ve enjoyed some of them, none of them work as well for me as a good old fashioned lycan.
Unfortunately, I can count on probably two (maybe three) hands the number of werewolf books I’ve actually really liked and I’ve read loads that have been unsatisfying. Why do I keep doing this to myself? I suppose I’m hunting for that elusive ‘something’ that’s really got me in the books I’ve loved.
And what is that something? i think it’s something about wildness, otherness. It can take different forms – a compelling portrayal of animal nature, a genuine strangeness or ‘off’ feeling – but something that shifts (yeah!) my perception of the world and/or characters I’m reading about. I hate hate hate reading characters who are regular folks who happen to shift. What’s the point?
There’s something, too, for me in the world building. I’m not keen on books set in werewolf communities that read like small town romances, with werewolf couples double dating and having community parties or generally being pillars of some werewolf community. To be honest, I’m not even very keen on ones that are all full of laws and customs and stuff. Not big on sonorous explanations of rituals by ‘healers’ or shamans whatever. And too much alpha beta gamma delta exposition makes me sigh.
At which point you are probably thinking: THIS is someone who claims to like werewolf romance? Seriously?
Yes. I am perfectly serious.
I like fucked up wolves. I like characters who are falling apart at the seams because they can’t cope with their recent transformation or because werewolf life is so hard or because they’re forced into a situation that is somehow untenable for them. I want to believe that this is a person character whose actual body has broken apart and re-formed in a new shape. I want to see their two sides, two forms, two natures. I want it to be hard and messy and painful and glorious and joyful and compelling.
So, in this regard, I like:
– the animal savagery and unswervingness of Clay in Bitten by Kelley Armstrong;
– the brutality and short life expectancy of werewolf society in Mathilde Madden’s Silver Werewolves trilogy; and most recently…
– the anxiety and danger and fear that surrounds the transformation of Axton in Winter Wolf and City Werewolf by S P Wayne
These last – the Wayne books – these I have greatly enjoyed, despite a fair bit of POV weirdness and quite a few typos in book 1 (happily largely cleared up by book 2). Plus I liked these books for lots of other reasons than the werewolf aspects – the richly drawn characters, the dialogue, the … the patience of the relationship development.
But this most of all: Axton, an anxious canine, circling, too stressed to change, barking at nothing.