Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Review: Wolfsbane, by Andrea Cremer

Title: Wolfsbane
Author: Andrea Cremer
Format: Hardcover, 390 pages
Publisher: Philomel (Penguin Young Readers Group)
Publication Date: July 26, 2011
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance. Urban Fantasy


The sequel to the enormously popular Nightshade is even more exciting, and equally riveting! 

At the end of the first book, Calla and Shay were back at Bosque Mar's mansion, desperately searching for more answers to the riddles of the Keepers' world, but with an important object in hand -- Haldis, which Shay was sure was most likely a weapon of some sort.  They were suddenly attacked by various supernatural creatures, and Bosque himself showed up, much to their surprise.  However, the battle  became even more complicated by the equally sudden appearance of Searchers, who captured both Shay and Calla, just as the library doors burst open to reveal a horde of horrible beings rushing in for the kill.  And then one of the Searchers knocked Calla unconscious...

The second book opens with Calla waking up slowly and disoriented, to discover that she's in Searcher territory.  She is soon reunited with Shay, and meets Ethan again, whom she had fought against in Nightshade.  Other Searchers enter the picture -- Monroe, Connor and Ariadne (known as Adne), who is a Weaver of portals that lead from one location to another. 

The Searchers confirm Shay's suspicion that the real enemies -- of the Guardians as well as the Searchers -- are the Keepers, who have been lying to their faithful wolves for centuries.  They have even lied about the origins of the Guardians.

Calla and Shay immediately join in the war against the Keepers, returning to Vail to try to rescue Calla and Ren's packs.  What they find, however, is something so incredible and shocking that they can scarcely believe it...

Once again, Andrea Cremer has created a highly compelling tale that is really hard to put down.  The characters are well-fleshed, their relationships totally believable.  It's especially interesting to see how Calla and Shay, initially distrustful of the Searchers, end up even considering them as family. Although the emphasis of the plot is on Shay and Calla, the reader learns about and comes to care for the Searchers as well.  Whereas in the first book these people were shadowy and menacing (this was from the Keepers' point of view), in this book they become human and real, with real stories and personalities.  Especially poignant is the relationship between Monroe and Adne, two Searchers who play a pivotal role in the story.

It is in this second novel that the author gives us readers quite a bit of background information on the world she has created.  Through the Searchers, we learn how the Keepers first came to be, and where their dark power comes from.  We also learn the true origin of the Guardians, and how the Keepers have used them for centuries to do their will.

Shay finally lays claim to Calla's heart, and she to his, although she's still thinking of Ren, worrying about how her betrayal might have affected him. I love how Shay acts around Calla.  Although, in this book, he does become a little too overprotective of her, down deep he has always respected her as a leader, and admires her for it.  He's just so wonderful to her!  He's tender, loving, yet he has a humorous streak.  He has constantly been challenging Calla to go beyond the world as she has so far known it, to find the truth for herself.  

Of course, I love the character of Calla!  She's a fearless leader, yet will follow her heart when she feels she has to.  Although she's torn between Shay and Ren, since she loves them both, she does attempt to put the needs of her pack above her own personal needs.  She is fiercely loyal and determined, and very courageous in battle.  In fact, I think she's the perfect mate for Shay!

The love triangle in both of these novels makes me somewhat uncomfortable, to be quite honest.  While it does create emotional tension in the story, I have never really been satisfied with Ren as Calla's potential mate, in spite of his noble actions toward the end of Nightshade.  I just think he's much too easily manipulated by the Keepers.  If push comes to shove, will he choose them over Calla?  I think that the possibility has always been there.

However, there's more to Calla's conflicted emotions over Ren than just her love for him.  She also feels guilty for having left her pack behind, as well as the way of life that had been instilled in her since birth.  She's a very strong character, but also one with a kind, compassionate heart.  Therefore, it makes sense that she would feel torn between her new life and her old one.

It's also very obvious that Shay represents the new existence opening up for Calla, while Ren is symbolic of the old one, with its set pattern of submission to the Keepers.  While these mysterious beings (they are really witches) have always provided for the Guardians' every need, they also control the Guardians' lives. 

The themes of the new versus the old, the known versus the unknown, freedom accompanied by the uncertainty of survival versus bondage with every need provided for, the individual against the state -- these are all timeless human issues common to dystopian novels.  I find it highly fascinating, as well as fitting, that Cremer should so skillfully interweave them into these novels that, on the surface, deal only with the problems inherent in paranormal relationships.  But then, adolescence and young adulthood are both periods in human life in which a person is searching for an authentic identity.  These periods are also marked by high idealism and passionate hopes for a better world.  

The romance is there, the problems are there.  A human falls in love with a werewolf already promised to another werewolf.  So there is the element of forbidden love, so dear to every female heart, especially in those turbulent times already mentioned.  However, there are deeper things going on, and they give these novels their power and fierce beauty, not to mention their quintessentially American character.

Needless to say, this series is already occupying a proud space in my library, right next to The Twilight Saga, the Harry Potter series, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I already have the third novel, Bloodrose, in my Amazon wish list, awaiting purchase when it's released in January!   Furthermore, just as with these other beloved books, it will definitely be re-read several times in the future! 


MY RATING: 

2 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting, i REALLY need to add the first one to my wishlist, i keep seeing it popping up!

    Good review, new follower here
    TToria
    xo
    http://ttoria.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, TToria!

    Yes, NIGHTSHADE ia just incredible!! And I liked this one just as much! Can't wait for the third one in the series -- BLOODROSE, which will be out in January!

    Thanks for the compliment and the follow!!! : )

    ReplyDelete

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