The Wolf Gift Ann Rice
Gothic novel? Philosophical novel? Neither, actually.
Originally, we hoped this might be an adult for YA novel. Not so.
Cub reporter and really wealthy aristocrat, Reuben Golding, is doing a story on the Mendocino mansion of wealthy aristocrat Marchent Nideck, who must now sell the estate. Reuben falls in love with the estate and, after a one-night stand, falls in love with Marchent, who deeds him the entire estate (and pays the first year’s taxes) after one hot night. However, later that same night, Marchent’s two druggie brothers break in, killing her and nearly killing Reuben. He is saved by what he thinks is a large dog, who kills the brothers but merely bites him.
It doesn’t take a deep thinker to figure out that Reuben was bitten by a werewolf. In fact, there were of course, many allusions to wolves already, and you did get the title, right? But it takes a loooong time to get the reader to the point where Reuben understands.
This purports to be a philosophical/spiritual novel, and his brother, the catholic priest, does bring some religion into the mix, and whole chapters are devoted to the writings of Dejardin. Whole chapters also become filler, (do we need to know what is in the salad or how many times to toss it?) in fact, with Reuben’s musings on being a wolf and being able to discern the scent of evil. If you didn’t get his thoughts the first time, not to worry, he will repeat them three or four times.
As a philosophical novel, this fell flat. The mixture of Roman Catholicism didn’t really mix with the werewolves’ penchant for playing God, and the discussions of pure philosophy were restated too many times. The sexual exploitations felt like titillation, not an important plot line. The constant rain in San Francisco and Mendocino did not even ring true, although the lush descriptions of the Mendocino coast were a treat.
Rice puts most of the werewolf information in the last chapter, making it anti-climatic and obviously setting this as a series.
Random House published the audio book, aptly read by Ron McLarty. Feel free to sleep through whole chapters on salad making or the third time you hear the philosophical DeJardin discussions…