Imagine it. You’re me, on the metro on the way to work, holding an ARC that looks nice and short, and you flip the cover over and see the title described as your least favorite word…”atmospheric.”
Sigh. I almost turned back, but I powered through, and ultimately, I’m glad I did! Because Once There Were Wolves turned out to be a 5 star read for me. It bridges the line between atmospheric literary fiction and small town woodsy murder mystery, and there are WOLVES and the protagonist is a twin, so I was like “okay, I’m here for it.”
Inti is a wolf-woman, or somehting like that. Basically,she’s a conservation professional who helps re-introduce wolves to habitats were they’ve gone extinct–think Yellowstone, etc. Now she’s in Scotland to do it, but the pushback from the farming community is hard and fast. Inti is passionate about the wolves and the woods though—it comes from her father–and so she fights back. But there’s small town politics, the town’s police chief that Inti becomes involved with, a few local farmers and a local asshole who beats his wife, and soon, it becomes very clear that Inti is going to have to figure out what the hell is happening in order to save herself and the wolves. It’s hard to say much more than this–there’s a few twists, a few tropes, a murder or two, etc. The novel goes back and forth a bit between Inti and her sister Aggie’s childhood, their current life in Scotland, their time in Alaska years before, etc. It’s not too hard to follow, and it all informs the present, which is good!
This book IS in fact atmospheric–it’s the Scottish woods with wolves and weird townsfolk and stuff, but I didn’t hate it, surprisingly. I think the book’s short length helped–it kept moving so I didn’t get too bogged down in the details. I loved Inti as a complicated character. I did see the “whodunit” coming from the getgo, but that’s okay! I was still intrigued! I still enjoyed the resolution, and think it made sense.
Remember that Jodi Picoult wolf book? If you liked that, you’ll like this too!
A five star read for me…even if it was atmospheric.
Once There Were Wolves is on sale everywhere August 3, 2021.