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Friday, January 7, 2011

The Wolf that Was by Michelle L. Levigne

The Wolf that Was by Michelle L. Levigne
Publisher: Mundania Press LLC
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (267 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Lily

Tirian grew up knowing she would inherit her mother's duties as village wise woman, but without inheriting her mother's magical gifts. It didn't help that her mother insisted Tirian herself was magic. When an enemy wizard killed her mother, she despaired of ever finding an answer to that puzzle.

Then she met Bran, a man cursed by that same wizard: a wolf by day and a man only by light of the waning moon. Forced to choose between her new friend and the villagers who would never truly love her, Tirian decided it was time to seek answers for them both. Their journey took them to Stonemount, where King Fallon feared his new queen conspired to steal his throne, and a lonely child waited to grow into the most powerful enchanter in the world.

Their search united them, but their answers could tear them apart forever. Could a wolf that was a man at heart, and the maiden with a wolf in her soul ever find a world that would let them simply be, much less be together?

Have you ever read a book that isn’t really the genre you like best, but you’ll give it your best try, only to find it’s fabulous and can’t put it down? I did and it’s called The Wolf that Was.

Ms Levigne is gifted with an imagination that she has no problem in conveying into an easy-flowing, yet complex, story. The reader is immediately drawn into an imaginary but magical world and to the main character, Tirian, who believes that she has no magic despite being the daughter of a wise woman filled to the brim with magic. Forgive the repetition of magic but this is what the book is all about and it is described with almost poetic beauty: “…sparks of magic glittered on her fingertips, blue and green and silver, swirling up in the air like dancing fireflies”. The author’s descriptive powers are honed to perfection when all she needs to say about a character is that he “hid inside a deep purple cloak like clotted blood” and the reader knows just what this one is up to.

After the murder of her mother, Tirian becomes the village’s wise-woman. The population believes she holds the magic her mother did and Tirian, being a true wise-woman, manages to carry out her healing work without the villagers suspecting her lack of magic. Yet, there is always a question at the back of your mind, “Is she really not magical?”

Her affinity with wolves leads her to meet Bran -– an unwilling wolf shape-shifter who has been cursed by the wicked wizard. He can only return to man-shape at certain phases of the moon and his return to wolf is becoming more and more agonizing.

The deceptively easy writing details an intrinsic, perfectly planned plot that entwines the characters in an emotional quest to find out if Bran can be cured and whether Tirian does hold magic. This age-old technique of seeking an answer is the theme of many ancient tales, yet this one is infallible in its unique setting and wonderful, vibrant characters, their strength and quirks and turns it into an unforgettable fable.

Since we’re on the subject of characters, it’s worth mentioning that Trilian is not the typical beautiful heroine of romances. In fact she’s somewhat unkempt – even described as unwashed in one place – with a long face: and Bane is not the typical hottie hunk of a hero, yet I hurt with him in his agony when he shifted into wolf form. Their endearing traits lie in their loving, caring, courageous natures. The chemistry between the two is glittering and you’re left right to the end to find out if either of them recognize it fully. Even the villains of the piece are not totally unlikable – you can smile at their antics and skullduggery at times, yet you always hope (but are never sure) that their cruelty, arrogance and basic nastiness will end with their comeuppance.

The magical characters, who are spell-binding with powers beyond belief, mostly appear in the middle and towards the end of the book when the pace really picks up to the climax which left me biting my nails in terror at how it might all end.

What a fabulous world to live in – if you can escape the evil so-and-sos. How wonderful to feel “the magic buzz against the soles of [your] feet and fingertips, and tingle against [your] scalp”, to know what your fellows are thinking and to turn at will (and without pain) into a wolf.

The Wolf that Was will appeal to shape-shifter, fantasy-lovers and also to those new to the genre because it is just so well written with profound underlying themes. It was one of those stories you never want to end and so you savor each page slowly so that it doesn’t end too quickly. I wish I knew that formula. I wish I were Trilian.