I would do anything to make you happy because no one had ever smelled like you did. It was candy canes and pinecones. It was epic and awesome. And it was home.
Wolfsong by TJ Klune
Ox Matheson was twelve when his father taught him a lesson: Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
Ox was sixteen when the energetic Bennett family moved in next door, harbouring a secret that would change him forever. For the family are shapeshifters, who can transform into wolves at will. Drawn to their magic, loyalty and enduring friendships, Ox feels a gulf between this extraordinary new world and the quiet life he’s known. He also finds an ally in Joe, the youngest Bennett boy. Joe is charming and handsome, but haunted by scars he cannot heal.
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town, and tore a hole in his heart. Violence flared, tragedy split the pack and Joe left town, leaving Ox behind. Three years later, the boy is back. Except now he’s a man – and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book progressed with a slow-burn, lyrical intensity that sank its claws into me, pulled me in, and still hasn’t released me.
The summary doesn’t quite do the book justice, mostly because it’s difficult to encapsulate over a decade of plot and relationship development into three paragraphs. It’s not a book you describe; it’s one you experience.
There were so many wonderful soul-deep friendships, groupships, packmateships, and family bonding. It was found family loyalty and strength at its finest, all the more satisfying because of the emphasis on choice throughout. I appreciated that the conflicts between characters, especially the main romance, weren’t brushed aside just to get to a happily ever after faster. The reader experiences the same emotions as the characters and works through them together, sometimes over years. Klune paced everything perfectly and included just the exact right details to transport the reader into Ox’s mindset.
The writing was simultaneously understated and so full between the lines. Klune used repetition of ideas and thoughts to maximum effect from page one. I lost count how many times my heart soared and ached, how many times I teared up from the beauty and tightness of the writing from the very beginning. The story was both deeply serious and ridiculously funny.
A couple minor issues I had: one, the age difference between the main characters, even though nothing happened until they were both adults. I did appreciate the delicacy the author handled it with, including the cheeky Twilight reference (thanks for acknowledging my exact thoughts, Klune). Two, I’m not sure how, in the end, one of the characters remained at his pack status after it was taken from him. That process wasn’t consistent with an earlier one in the story.
Overall, this book was epic and awesome and felt like home. It’s going to stay with me for a long time, and I can’t wait to return to these characters and lose myself in the rest of the series.
You might like this if you like: the Aud Torvingen series by Nicola Griffith