Saturday, July 30, 2011
4 Stars for Wolf at the Door
Author: J. Damask
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 Stars
Being an ex-teen vigilante comes with its own set of problems.
Housewife, ex-teen vigilante…and shape-shifting wolf…Jan Xu has enough problems without adding her sister's to the mix. Marianne is returning to Singapore and she's filled with strange ideas. She's also not alone. She's coming home with a new boyfriend who has a dark agenda of his own.
With sibling rivalry threatening the inevitable: a battle-to-the-death with fang and claw, Jan and Marianne must overcome their issues if they're ever going to find peace within their troubled relationship.
Review by Marion Sipe:
Although it was a touch slow to start, I found myself thoroughly drawn into the world of this story. It's set in Singapore, and the detail of the setting is beautifully rendered, the various cultures vivid and alive. I also liked the feel of the book. It is not your typical urban fantasy, and there was a gentleness to the story, a practical, real life feel that was refreshing and felt honest.
I also enjoyed the wolfishness of the wolf characters. Often werewolves are just humans with the ability to become a wolf, but Wolf at the Door reaches a deeper understanding of the characters' natures. They felt like wolves wearing human faces, nuanced and fleshed out, with a human understanding, but still a wolf at the core. I liked the honest geekiness of the characters as well. Being a proud geek myself, I smiled at the description of Parallel Universes, the gaming shop owned by Jan's husband and the various references within the story.
The characters were interesting in and of themselves, with nuanced relationships and histories. There's not just one story, for while the current plot is the centerpiece of the book, the histories of the characters inform their actions and are told as a secondary plot. This creates a layered storyline and requires a willingness to not always understand the significance of some events, until they're paid off later in the story. I enjoy that kind of read, but it may lose some readers if what they're looking for is a straightforward tale.
I did have some issues. I sometimes found it hard to follow as the story moves from the present to the past--sometimes will little warning--and the different storylines aren't always defined enough to fit into a mental timeline. The story is a mix of two main plot lines, one is the past and one in the present. Both are interesting but the telling of them can be spotty in places, leaving the reader unsure how the pieces fit together. Sometimes the storylines in the past are subtitled with "past," but sometimes they aren't, and sometimes it switches back to the present without telling the reader.
The dialogue was sometimes stilted, although the character interaction is complex and layered, I didn't feel that the dialogue always did it justice. Much more, the feelings and motivations of the characters come through in their actions, their body language. Which is, perhaps, appropriate for wolves (and the Myriad folk in general), although I would have liked for the characters to have engaged more deeply with one another. There are also some grammatical and formatting issues. I didn't find them terribly jarring myself, but others may.
Overall, the story was complex and subtle, but rendered in muted tones. The setting is beautifully written, but I felt the characters needed some work. Not in their depth, because they have that in spades, but in their interaction with one another. No one discusses or talks much about the situation, and I found that made it harder to dig into the story, but at the same time the flow of it was intriguing. I would read the next book in the series, but I would hope to see the characters interact more, speak to one another more.
Where to Buy:
Barnes & Noble