White Wolf, by Lauren Gilley. Book 1 in Sons of Rome series.
I first came across this author a few years ago, when another author I read every so often recommended her Dartmoor series on Facebook. As I quite enjoy the original author, Jen Frederick, I thought I would give the series a shot. Let me tell you; this was one of the best reading decisions I have ever made. I loved them.
White Wolf is the first book in Lauren’s new series (and yes, I have been following this author for long enough on Facebook that I feel like I can address her as Lauren). The story is supernatural based, featuring mages, and wolves and vampires, and let me tell you when I first heard that this was going to be the basis of her next series I wasn’t thrilled. Supernatural is just not a genre I normally enjoy. But Lauren has a talent for writing Character Driven novels, and the characters make my heart hurt, in such a good way.
But I read this book in one sitting. I was flying between Australia and Hong Kong the day after it was released, so I figured I would be able to give it a solid few hours. It’s probably also worth mentioning that I have a love of Russian history so I was hoping that despite my distinct lack of joy for the Supernatural element I had high hopes that the historical aspect would be right up my alley.
The characters are very rounded, and I grew attached to a majority of them rather quickly, it was almost instant. (Sasha and Nik, I’m talking to you!) There were a few characters I wasn’t as sold on, but even the characters I didn’t like will probably wind up to be favourites in the coming books. Following the books release the author commented on her blog that she found one of her greatest challenges to be getting a reader to love characters that you would normally abhor, quoting that “Enjoying a book about a problematic character does not mean you approve of the problematic behaviour”. Well, she has had lots of practise writing within this genre and it shows, who else could get me to love a merry band of Checklists?
I also loved that there was a real mix of historical people along with the supernatural elements of the book. Kind of a supernatural alternative to history, if you will. I found the further through the book I got there was a wonderful blend of fiction and non-fiction and Lauren managed it seamlessly, something I appreciated since I had read widely about that particular time of Russian history and would have had no problems pulling it apart had it not been done so well. White Wolf was intriguing, dark and gritty. You can tell in this book, like her Dartmoor series that the author is greatly influenced by gothic literature.
I did find the prelude rather jarring as for me it didn’t sit with the rest of the novel. It had nothing to do with Russia, or as far as I could tell much of the rest of the book. Hell, it didn’t even feature the same characters that this story is about, but I am assuming that it will tie in with the next few books of the series. It’s probably worth noting that the prelude was released as a novella a few months prior and on its own I really liked it. Just not as a prelude.
White Wolf carries on back and forth, both modern-day America and the period following the Russian Revolution. I will admit to loving the past tense series more than the present tense, I just found it easier to immerse myself in their world, but that is just my personal preference, and I can’t wait for the sequel Red Rooster.
You can check out Lauren’s works on Amazon, or her blog is http://hoofprintpress.blogspot.com.au