The thing about Wolfsong is that it’s a keen example of the best thing about paranormal romance as a genre: it’s a way to explore a deep corner of human nature by coming at it sideways, through a fantasy concept that magnifies the details.
This one, in particular, is about what it might mean to have a soulmate.
People give this book some flak for the age gap – and I see that, and it didn’t need to be quite this wide, but I can also see how it serves the story.
Because the fundamentally tricky thing about having a soulmate – in the destined-for-you sense – is that people CHANGE. What you want and need from another person is going to be totally different at different points in your life. And now can a fixed romantic ideal ever stand up to that?
And, in Wolfsong, the answer is this: Let’s follow two people through half a lifetime. Let’s see if they can each be what the other person needs.
As a child, a soulmate is a friend. Someone to walk you home from school. Someone to protect you when you need protecting, and admire you when you need admiring. Someone to show up when you’re having a nightmare, and tell you it’s going to be okay.
As a young adult, a soulmate is a lover. Someone to reciprocate an undeniable magnetism. Someone to be head-over-heels for. Someone to stand with against any social judgment, because it should always feel like you’re the very first person to love anyone this hard.
Then: Someone to break your heart for. Because what’s more romantic than a tragedy?
Finally, as a grown-up with all your own baggage and all your own accomplishments, a soulmate is an equal. A partner. A give-as-good-as-they-get challenge to everything you thought you knew, because life doesn’t have a habit of staying still.
On this level: Wolfsong is a masterpiece.
…so let’s talk for just a second about what ELSE is going on here, because it ALSO deserves saying:
- this is a debut novel, and it’s a little too ambitious for it’s own good.
- the pacing never makes any goddamn sense.
- I’ve read this book twice and I’m STILL not sure why tracking the terrorist wolf wizard through the woods for YEARS was ever supposed to be an idea that anybody entertained for two seconds, nevermind actually went through with.
- there’s only one woman in this book who is even anywhere CLOSE to a complete character, and she gets lunched by the terrorist wolf wizard halfway through.
- I have approximately two hundred and fifteen questions about how werewolf mate bonding works now, and NONE of them have satisfying answers.
- Two hundred and three of those questions stem from the fact that you need penetrative sex to bond, but penetration with your hands doesn’t count, which seems to imply the existence of a Magic Werewolf Penis.
- Forty-five of THOSE questions are about what happens if you’re a werewolf lesbian, or you have a werewolf spinal injury.
- Listen: nobody thought this through, is what I’m saying.
EDIT: My friend Cricket’s theory is that actually ANYTHING can complete the mate bond, so long as you BELIEVE it will. And these two, specifically, are just idiots.
I am choosing to accept this as canon!
(Also: this is going to be one of those books that I perpetually re-read forever. It’s a story where angst is responded to with comfort and abiding love, and that’s just something that draws me in, repeatedly. I fully embrace this fate!)
Cannonball Read 15 BINGO: Hold Steady
(because it takes quite a lot of stability to hang on to a soulmate your whole life, and wait for somebody to come back from a murder-y wolf wizard quest!)