The Silver Wolf
The Silver Wolf is a dark fantasy with a romantic happily ever after ending. I enjoyed it immensely but it’s not a book for everyone. It contains huge amounts of explicit violence and a teensy bit of untraditional sex. But if you’re like me and are willing to venture into the unusual to satisfy the need for a well written fantasy with even the slightest romantic thread, I bet you’ll like this one a lot.
Regeane is a young, beautiful woman with royal blood who has spent her girlhood being held captive by her greedy uncle and his slovenly son. They keep her barred up at night because she can change into a wolf when the sun sets. They’d prefer to ruin and murder her but her virginity and bloodlines make her a valuable commodity. They plan to make a fortune from her betrothal to a wealthy barbarian.
Regeane has been beaten, starved, and threatened but not defeated. Once she discovers their plans and is told by her oh-so-sweet uncle that her new hubby will likely kill her once he discovers her secret, she takes her future into her own hands and sets a plan of escape in motion.
The rest of the book follows Regeane on a fascinating trip of self-discovery. Not only does she have to learn how to deal with her shapeshifting abilities but she has visions and discovers she can speak to the dead. And as if all that weren’t enough for a girl to deal with, she becomes embroiled in the middle of a very dangerous political situation. Eventually she finds a fulfilling love in the most unexpected of places.
The setting is Rome in the Dark Ages and Borchardt brings it to vivid life. She’s done some major research and details everything so well that when the characters are dining you can almost taste and smell the meal. Her descriptions often take you places you don’t really want to go, though. There are numerous descriptions of vile acts, torture, depravity, and assorted bodily functions, so if you have a weak stomach you may feel the need to skim.
The main focus of the story is not the romance. The heroine doesn’t even meet the hero until the last fourth of the book. It concentrates more on Regeane, who is a strong, caring, likable character. Occasionally the story gets off track with the introduction of many secondary characters who each have their own story to tell and don’t always advance the plot. Luckily, they are interesting and well developed, so it is not a chore reading about them. My mind did start wandering at times when the book delved heavily into the political details but it wasn’t long before it became unputdownable again.
This is not a light and fluffy book. It’s long (at 400+ pages), moody, and has some truly horrific moments but there are several scenes when I actually laughed out loud – something I rarely do. The humor is often black and comes at the most surprising moments.
Here’s a sample of the humor where Regeane is discussing her impending nuptials with dread to a “motherly” woman who gives her the following sage advice to look forward to:
One week after we were married, during the wedding festivities, he consumed the best part of an ox, two and a half barrels of my father’s excellent ale, fell down in a fit and choked to death on his own vomit, leaving me a wealthy and independent woman. I would wish you similar good fortune.
Maybe I’m warped but I found that hysterical, and a much needed break from the darker mood of the story.
The story is very sensual in tone but only gets a warm rating due to the fact that there is no actual love making between the hero and heroine. The buildup is incredible and they come so close and then the book ends. Grrrr.
There were a few loose ends left dangling that I’m hoping will be answered in a sequel but all the important things were wrapped up neatly. The Silver Wolf is still in hardcover but should be released in paperback very soon. If you like to be swept back to another time, enjoy paranormal aspects and demand a happy ending you can’t go wrong with this book.