Inti Flynn is a woman with A Past. She arrives in the Scottish highlands leading a “rewilding project”: her team is going to reintroduce wolves to Scotland, where they were hunted to extinction hundreds of years before. Not only is Inti a prickly character who understands wolves better than people, she also suffers from a neurological condition called Mirror Touch Synesthesia, which means that she feels the sensations of everything she sees. We also understand very early on that Inti has been profoundly damaged by experiences in her past, as has her twin sister, Aggie. Aggie is virtually catatonic, and we know that something Very Bad has happened in the recent past.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the farmers and townsfolk are not thrilled to have wolves in their backyard. Tensions run high, especially with concerns about the safety of livestock. When one particularly vocal opponent to the wolves turns up dead, Inti makes a snap decision that will ripple out to affect Inti, the wolves, and the town in ways that she cannot predict. The rest of the novel skips between the present, with Inti doing everything she can to ensure that the wolves survive and thrive; and Inti and Aggie’s past, as we creep towards the truth of what happened to the sisters.
I loved the conservation angle to this book. There is a lot of information packed in here about the role of predators in a healthy ecosystem, and a lot of it was new to me. I empathized a lot with Inti’s focus on reviving and rewilding, and her perspective that we, humans, are causing damage to our world. Unfortunately, the last quarter of the book strayed so far beyond the realm of believability that I couldn’t just let it go. But if you can get past some eyebrow raising plot points, there is some beautiful writing about the importance of wilderness – and wildness.