The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice
There are few books in my life that I genuinely give up on. I have to be not only not enjoying the book, but not finding anything of merit in any way. It can’t be thoughtful or relevant; it can’t be funny, ring true, or be compelling in any way. I have to be beyond the point of apathy, almost to the point of being offended that this author, this writer, this publisher, have allowed this book to go on the shelves as something worthy of consideration.
The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice is one of those books. Despite its homage to werewolf stories of yore, this book is an absolute disgrace to the entire genre and probably should not even be considered part of the canon.
The story: a 23-year-old reporter with a mysterious amount of family money is on assignment to write about a giant house that is up for sale when he falls in love with (and sleeps with) the house’s owner. During the night, he and his lover are brutally attacked, and in the midst of that attack, the reporter is bitten by a mysterious beast. After a few poignant hospital scenes in which he frets about his inability to save the woman he is apparently desperately in love with, he becomes a werewolf, half-man, half-wolf, with the ability to hear the voices of those in need and to smell evil intent.
He goes on a rampage around the city of San Francisco, killing rapists, abusers, murderers and perpetrators of hate crimes, all the while writing maybe three stories about the “Man Wolf”’s escapades. The stories are poorly written and are full of the sort of inexcusable editorializing that should have cost him his job. Instead, they make him a hero and a legend, both as a reporter and as a Man Wolf (ugh). At some point during his rambles in the woods, he meets a pretty girl and fucks her in Man Wolf form. Or, as Rice puts it, “gently impaled her on his sex.”
There’s a lot of discussion in this book about what it means to be a “Man Wolf.” Emphasis on man, since apparently this guy retains all sense of morality and human consciousness when in his half-animal form. However, there’s no real debate about what it means, or if this guy retains his soul, or if he should really be murdering people. That’s all dismissed as simply this guy’s destiny, the result of his “Wolf Gift,” which God would not have given him, we are lead to believe, if God didn’t want this man to murder evil-doers.
And there’s a lot of God talk, at odd times and in odd places. The protagonist will wonder about God, marvel about God, thank God, bow his head in prayer and simply discuss things with God. That’s all well and good if that’s what someone would actually do in this situation, but somehow it doesn’t ring true. Shouldn’t there be more struggle? Shouldn’t he be debating ethical questions about whether or not God would want him to kill people? Shouldn’t he question whether this gift is from some evil power, coming as it does, from someone who appears to pre-date Christ?
Yes, is the answer. There are simply too many problems with this book for me to get on board. It’s sloppy, annoying, and entirely unconscious of its own ridiculousness. Please, if you are at all tempted to read some Anne Rice, go back to The Vampire Chronicles, where at least there was some introspection, contemplation, and nuance. Don’t waste your time on this one.