‘The Wolf Gift’ natural winner for Anne Rice

By: 
Jan Jones
Columnist

This week I revisited one of my favorite authors. Anne Rice. I’m not sure when she published her Wolf Gift Chronicles, but I discovered book one, “The Wolf Gift,” on Infosoup. I must say, it was pure Anne Rice; intriguing but extremely wordy.

The Golding family has called San Francisco home for generations and done well. This generation includes Grace, Phil, James and Reuben. Phil is a poet and philosopher with a warm and dreamy outlook on life. Grace is a hard-working surgeon more focused on saving lives than anything mundane.

James surprised them all and became a priest devoted to caring for the down and out on the infamous Tenderloin district of the city. Almost 10 years younger is Reuben. Nearing 25, he is tall, amazingly handsome and recently employed as a reporter for The Observer.

As the story opens, Reuben is preparing to do a story on the fabled building known as the Nideck house. The sprawling mansion was built by Felix Nideck, but he disappeared without a trace 20 years ago. Felix has been declared dead and his niece, Marchent, has decided to sell the property and find places for all the artifacts her dear uncle had collected over years of archaeological digs.

Reuben is instantly in love with the place and considers offering to buy it. Due to the remoteness, Reuben agrees to spend the night and to his great surprise, Marchent takes him into her bed.

In the middle of the night the silence is broken by screams. Someone broke in and attacked Marchent. Reuben tries to help but is stabbed several times. Suddenly, “something” appears, ripping the attackers to pieces and biting Reuben in the process.

When he wakes, he is in a hospital. The attackers were Marchent’s estranged brothers, she is dead, and the creature who saved Reuben is nowhere to be found.

He is astounded to learn that just before the attack, Marchent had done all the legal work leaving the Nideck property to Reuben. He heals quickly, but when he hears screams for help, he suddenly morphs into a man-wolf and goes to the rescue, tearing out the man’s throat.

This new power is both terrifying and exhilarating, and he knows he must hide it at all costs, yet he can’t resist responding to the calls of the innocent. When he smells evil, his body simply reacts.

When he confesses everything to James, he is confronted by the question of his right to destroy the lives of the evil doers. Jim explains that they may have been bad people, but they never had a chance to seek redemption or atone for their sins. This moral dilemma torments Reuben as he is compelled to continue his killing spree.

His sanity is saved when he meets a special woman named Laura. She knows what he is and doesn’t care. Together they embark on a quest to discover the secrets of the mansion and the life of Felix Nideck and his friends.

Things reach a crescendo when Reuben accidentally bites a young man he is trying to save. As feared, the boy heals and exhibits the same man-wolf traits as Reuben. Reuben saves him and with the help of Felix and friends assures Nideck Point will be a safe haven for the foreseeable future.

There isn’t enough space here to share all the plot twists and turns, but I will say I enjoyed the many surprises and the way justice is served at Nideck Point. As books one concludes we learn about the painful history of those known as the “morphinkinder,” their moral codes and their shared need to avenge the innocent.

When the world gets crazy it feels good to delve into some other-worldly fantasy. Your public library can supply an amazing array of that gene along with many others. Why not stop by this week and check it all out?

AT A GLANCE

Book: The Wolf Gift

Author: Anne Rice

Publisher: Random House

Year published: 2012

Number of pages: 528