Once There Were Wolves–Book Review

Once There Were WolvesOnce There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved being in the world described by the author. The tale, told through the eyes of Iti, a young woman biologist, evokes an aura of fable, or classic fairy tale as it unwinds the telling of three mysteries: a possible love connection for Iti with Duncan, the local police chief, a perplexing ailment plaguing Aggie, Iti’s twin sister, and an actual murder of a community member. Moreover, throughout the story, a theme reverberates: will Iti’s team be successful introducing wolves back into the highlands of Scotland, and if not, why? I loved that the author is not preachy as she unveils some truths about the world’s reluctance to embrace and preserve the wildness of nature, specifically represented by the wolves and the attempt by humans to extinguish their species. The book explores this violence making the reader yearn for a return to a more natural balance between prey and predator. We learn, for instance, that absent the wolves as predator, the deer have so denuded the forests that no new saplings will grow, resulting in fewer trees, upon which we humans rely for oxygen. Parallel to the violence involving animals, the reader learns about the violence inflicted by men against their wives and the repercussions that has upon the victims who are unable to recover from the trauma.
The characters come alive in the book, to the point where I felt I was communicating with friends as I read it. The mysteries resolve themselves in a surprising but satisfying manner. It is a book I will remember. I loved the feel of it–a soft touch to difficult topics.

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