The story starts when a young journalist by the name of Reuben Golding met a woman by the name of Marchent Nideck at a grand mansion in North California to get information about an article he is about to write for the San Francisco Observer. Reuben instantly fell in love with the house. In fact, he wished to own it. He also became very fond of Marchent on their first meeting despite of the age gap. Marchent showed him the classy rooms and libraries, even the priceless possessions of Felix Nideck, Marchent’s uncle from which she inherited such property. It was to Reuben’s knowledge before heading off there that Felix mysteriously disappeared years ago and he was thought to be dead.
Reuben stayed the night. While at rest, he heard a loud crash and the next thing he knew is that he was trying to save Marchent but he wasn’t able to. Marchent has died of homicide, killed by her two drugged-out brothers. After they killed Marchent, though, the brothers have been attacked by a mysterious creature which seemed like a wolf or an animal of such nature. Reuben has also been bitten but his life was spared and he didn’t know why. He woke up in a hospital bed and stayed there for days where he noticed the many peculiar changes occuring all over his body — changes in hormonal behavior, emotional restlessness, change in his senses — all not normal. His mother, Dr. Grace Golding, apparently noticed this changes and started some tests but all tests didn’t lead her anywhere because all samples from her son’s body only mysteriously disintegrate.
Marchent observed that Reuben greatly admires the mansion and all its treasures so before she died, she managed to communicate with her lawyers for a change in her will and to have the property be passed on to the young journalist. Reuben knew that the answer to the mystery that was engulfing him lies within the mansion, so he chose to stay there when he was set free from the hospital. Eventually, he discovered why he has undergone such changes and with his discovery, he has also learned the secrets of the mansion and of the people who used to live in there.
The story, I admit, is engrossing! There’s so much mystery in it that it got me more excited than Reuben to learn what there is to learn. It is also very graphic; it’s like I was watching its screen adaptation in my mind. Anne Rice’s descriptive writing is exceptional. The only thing that I didn’t like about its being very graphic is that you can even picture the unpleasantly sticky bed scenes between a werewolf and a human. You’ve just been warned, kids.
Anyway, the language is very formal, very Anne Rice. If you aren’t used to Anne Rice’s writing style, it’s better to start with The Vampire Chronicles. Do not start with this.
The shift from the conventional references in this novel is notable. As far as I know, it is rare in the legends that the method for one to become a werewolf is by another werewolf’s direct bite like how vampires are made. From the other books that I’ve read, to become a werewolf, one has to be a seventh son of a seventh son, or one must submit to a Satanic commitment. Anne Rice used the direct bite method, a rare take, and referred to the power that is passed as The Chrism. She also used the term Morphenkinder to refer to a man wolf. And no, the moon has nothing to do with the transformation. Anne Rice’s werewolves can also sense evil and they are somehow portrayed as heroes who attack only evil people. That, I find rather funny because c’mon, they’re werewolves! They aren’t Justice League!
As for the characters, some of their descriptions seem to be useless. Reuben’s brother being a priest, for example, to whom Reuben confided about his new nature, has very little to do with the entire story. The presence of Celeste and Mort can also be cut, I think. Unless they have significant roles in a sequel.
What I liked most from The Wolf Gift is the last three chapters or so, where the story on how the species originated was told by the very first Morphenkinder himself. It is in the last few chapters that some significant questions has been answered and I was surprised and awestruck that I now have a new view on the genesis of werewolves.
I am not very excited in reading the next books in the series, though I want to find out how Laura (Reuben’s love interest) is going to handle the Chrism if she is going to ask for it.
This is not the best novel by Anne Rice, but it’s not bad for a first take on werewolf lore. ★★☆☆☆