"Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright". Anne Rice..Show More »'s "man-wolf" doesn't follow the conventional tenets of lycanthropy--there is no moon, no gypsy, no silver bullets. What Rice has done with her new novel is reinvent not only the lore of the heretofore terrifying beast, but the beast itself, with the same flair she used in the greatest make-over of all time...the evil undead vampire into Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.
And, those menly men have nothing over gifted Reuben Golding; he's young, handsome, filthy rich, erudite, with a doctor-mother, lawyer-girlfriend, priest-brother, drives a Porsche,--AND, he is bequeathed a sprawling mansion by the ocean, after he makes love to the mysterious older woman (32?!) he just met that owns the place is attacked and killed by her jealous hooligan brothers--the post-coital glow still about her beautiful face. Reuben of course is spared...OR IS HE???
This time around the creature-angst that had Pitt's Louis eating rats to avoid committing murder, has been replaced with a deep existential pondering about good and evil, the sacred and the profane, Zarathustra's favorite salad dressing...you'd think waking up covered in black fur sprouting claws and fangs would cause more deliberation than if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it...
Years ago, Interview With The Vampire was one of my favorite reads. Rice is a distinguished writer, and Wolf Gift has her trademark rich and evocative settings, the lush prose, and an entertaining story (which seems to be begging for a sequel). Though I have to say, even once you have suspended belief and embraced the man-wolf as a vigilante guard dog, there are some issues: there is no real tension, no suspenseful build-up--even the love scenes seem unenthusiastic (what is with the flannel night gowns--some reference to Little Red's grandma!?). Reuben isn't the only one with an identity dilemma--Man or Wolf? Philosophy or Horror? As it is, this book could be placed in either genre. Too often the wolf story got trampled by Rice's philosophical/theological tutorials that reminded me of college days with Kant, Hume, Descartes, deChardin, when I wanted suspense, chills and frights.
Wolf Gift may not be a hair-raiser, a little editting may have helped this new book be on par with Rice's earlier work, but true Rice fans will devour it and be hoping for The Man-Wolf Chronicles.