How I found this book: I heard good things about it from bloggers before it came into my library. When I saw it on the shelf, I thought, well, let's give it a try... I can send it back if I don't like it.
The first page had me hooked.
Book in a nutshell: Bryn (full name Bronwen Alessia St. Vincent Clare) has been adopted by the local werewolf pack after a loner werewolf killed her parents. She remains fully human and very independent, however. When she begins to have her priviledges curtailed and obscure warnings issued, she guesses that something is up.... something the werewolves don't want her to know about.
Discovery upon discovery will lead her through pain and trouble and rebellion, far into the wilderness, and finally to a final confrontation with the truly chilling villain who is responsible for her parents' deaths - and for much, much more.
This was a new sort of tale for me... I usually thought werewolves were the Antagonists, or at any rate that They Ought To Be Avoided... I think it was my violent mental allergy to most paranormal books that kept me in that mindset. My earliest book on the subject formed my opinions, and they stacked up to Keep A Long Way Away From The Werewolf. So when I found this book, I had to suspend my previous feelings. Fortunately it wasn't too hard, as even Bryn still finds her "packmates" scary.
Some traditions hold, as well as the "scary" part. As in, werewolves still have an allergy to silver. But Ms. Barnes manages to mix the elements quite nicely, and I think most readers will find her 'wolves a fair cross between the original legends and the um, new urban edition.
(Unrelated subject: Just turned on a CD of Handel's Messiah. Terrific music. The opening symphonia is pure heavenly sound... I adore violins!)
Raised by Wolves is not a paranormal romance - thank heavens. Sure, there is a romance going on. But it is not the focus of the plot. It's more of a thriller... that just happens to be about werewolves.... really.
And Bryn is such an extremely sensible person, she doesn't allow herself to dissolve over a guy. She questions their connection and defends it on other than romantic grounds. And I must say, the Signifigant Other is a strong and intelligent person on his own.
The antagonist of this book is about the scariest villain I have read about since the Nazgul. Just saying.
"I really don't know why you're here," I told him, selecting my words carefully. Most Weres could smell a lie, and Callum, the alpha of alphas in our corner of the world, would have known immediately... Luckily for me, I didn't know precisely what it was that I'd done to merit a visit from our pack's leader. There were any number of possibilities, none of whcih I wanted to openly admit to on the off chance that there was something I'd done that he hadn't found out about yet.
There were several streams in the woods, as well as the disturbingly named Dead Man's Creek...
...I knew I shouldn't respond, knew that anyone in Callum's basement was there for a reason... Whoever was down there sounded like I felt. It didn't matter who it was or what he'd done. I had to help him, because it wasn't like I could do a thing for myself...
"You've never brought her back irreparably harmed," Ali admitted grudgingly. "This better not be a first."
And by the way, I am quite delighted with the delicate power-balances of werewolf politics. This has got to be the only paranormal book where a character asks "Is this a democracy or isn't it?" and the answer actually matters. I can tell that Ms. Barnes put not only her heart into this writing, but also her mind.
As I told my brother not too long ago, "I could live in this book's world. I really could. And I can't say that for many books."
Though I did have to add, "Of course, I would probably have to break my habit of indiscriminate night wandering..."
Age rec: Thirteen the absolute rock-bottom limit. It's not for any indecency... the romance is, as I've said, not an overwhelming plot point... there were a few points I was worried at, but nothing happened... It's mostly the violence and the general nastiness of the villain that I balk at. I figure it would have thoroughly yikes-ed my twelve-year-old self. On the other hand, I wasn't the bravest.