Their love was innocent.
Their friendship was pure.
Their fear was real.
Their danger was true.
When little Marlena is left to care for an abandoned wolf pup, her parents see their irrevocable bond, and this humble family embarks on an adventure trying to care for the needs of a rapidly growing wolf, and the needs of their headstrong daughter. The comical complications of such a venture only darken when Marlena, now a high school student, witnesses her wolf shift… into a young man.
Secrets and the pure hatred from a man out for revenge take Marlena, her family and her wolf on a heartbreaking journey of devastating loss, captivity, and ultimate sacrifices.
This love story will haunt you well after you finally set this book down.
***Disclaimer: I received a copy in exchange for a review.***
Opening & Hook: begins with a lonely young girl playing in the woods and meeting up with a pair of wolves, or so she thinks. For some reason the wolves decided to keep the child company and bonded with her, starting little Marlena on the path of her life-changing journey.
Style: From the outset India Allen displayed a deft touch for immersing her audience in the story. Told through Marlena’s POV, readers will always feel as if they’re right there with her as she experiences her life with Romy, the role he plays in her family’s life and the conflicts it brings with her two best friends Trevor and Jimmy- especially when Trevor becomes more than a friend.
Setting/Worldbuilding: the town & area Marlena lives in are undefined, almost generic; there’s no scope to anything since Marlena’s entire world consists of going to school and hanging out with Trevor, Jimmy & Romy. We’re more familiar with the woods surrounding her house than anything else about the area- including her own home. There’s no family trips, no friends or relatives coming to visit, nothing.
Characters: as the focus of the story, Marlena is a wonderfully interesting character. It’s uncommon to have an engaging person to follow in such an obvious story arc, but I was always interested in what was going on with her. Marlena was never such a Special Snowflake that you didn’t want to keep reading.
Romy/Sebastian, on the other hand, was less so. Despite his strengths and enjoyable naivete about the world around him, he practically had Cliched Romantic Trope stamped on his forehead the whole time. Once he transformed into a human, I began losing interest in him as you knew where things were headed.
Trevor & Jimmy, aka T & Hound- Marlena’s two best friends since childhood- were the highlight of the story. The bond they formed was a strong one, even when teenage romance threatened to break it. Their relationship felt natural and the insights into Trevor’s mindset during it were solid and refreshing to read, as did its resolution.
Story & Conflict: the story feels divided into two halves- childhood and young adulthood- the obvious transition being once Romy shifts into Sebastian and their romance develops. Much of the story is about Marlena’s emotional journey, with Romy always at the center of things. Things pick up and change once Romy’s secret is discovered by Trevor & Jimmy- in a typically teenaged fashion- and sets things in motion for the third act. This is where it starts to fall apart; the scenarios are trite and laden with purple prose as the lovers are separated and their lives threatened. Everything turns preachy and again, clichéd, trite and well, corny. It’s as if the author suddenly felt compelled to cram all their story ideas about shifters into the finale, leaving little room for anything resembling what we’d been reading so far.
The villains and their motives… well, as I said- corny, cliched tropes. Wasn’t interested in any of it. And if you’re hunting werewolves and gonna experiment on them you might want to have a better base camp than a crummy tent setup in the middle of nowhere.