Today I read rflong
's The Wolf's Sister
, which was released by Samhain Publishing
yesterday. Before I give you my opinion, let me just point out that normally I wouldn't touch romance with a ten foot barge pole (too girly), that I hate e-books (too much eye-strain, plus I like
paper). Also, I was reading at work having been co-opted into covering reception - my old job and one I heartily despise - so I wasn't in the best of moods.*
Despite the things weighing against it I bought this e-book anyway, on the strength of a couple of excerpts and the fact that I've liked everything else of Ruth's that I've read.
I wasn't disappointed.
Some of the things that turned me away from romance when I was younger was the lack of a plot, and flimsy characterisation. Neither of these things were evident here. While the plot is simple, it's no more so than a multitude of other fantasy tales, and in fact a more complicated story would have detracted from what I think is the novella's real strength - the characterisation.
The heroine, Jeren, is very much a product of her society, and has been brought up to be quiet and obedient, "no more than a beautiful decoration." For all this she's no passive female, waiting for a man to complete her. She takes control of her own destiny. Likewise Shan is more than just the mindless killing-machine that poor writing and cliche could have him be. There's a real depth of pain there that makes him real.** The greatest piece of characterisation though is that of Anala, Shan's wolf companion. Finally, a fictional wolf that actually acts like a wolf!
This isn't to say that The Wolf's Sister
isn't without its problems. For one it's too short - the ending came too abruptly for me, as it felt like there was so much more to the story. This may be because of the planned sequel, but I felt like I'd had the other half of a novel taken away from me. The other problem I had was also to do with the length. There are a few, not exactly loose ends but thing's I'd have liked to have seen explained. Like the braids, and why losing them has the effect it does.
So all in all, I enjoyed reading The Wolf's Sister
so much that I didn't want to put it down, and am eagerly waiting the next installment. I'd recommend it to any fantasy fan, even ones who don't like romance, because the worldbuilding has depth, and the prose is beautifully-written enough to allow forgiveness of the occasional "romance-ism."
Plus, the more people who read it the more of us there are to nag for the sequel. ;)
*It should be pointed out that I had permission from my line manager to skive, as I can't actually access any of the information I need from reception. :D
**I may be biased though, as I'm a sucker for the pale-and-interesting fay-warrior type. ;)