Friday, April 24, 2009

The Silver Wolf by Alice Borchardt

Sadly, Alice Borchardt, the sister of Anne Rice, passed away in 2007. I just finished her first book, The Silver Wolf. Most books on the market currently place werewolves in today's society, or a world much like this one with a few concessions in order to support a supernatural populace. Borchardt, however, takes us back to the Dark Ages of Rome, where poor men spend their time wallowing in brothels, and rich men spend their time reclining on chaises while gorging themselves on stuffed game birds. Poor Regeane, young, single, and with a terrible secret to hide is at her uncle's mercy, chained every night in order to keep her wolf from escaping and terrorizing the countryside. As the distant relative of Charlemagne, Regeane is worth her weight in gold, and her uncle's intent is to marry her off and exploit the wealth. But Regeane is only determined to learn how to be a wolf and a woman both, in a land where the accusation of witchcraft means certain death and torture. She has no reason to trust men, and spends her freetime plotting the death of her soon-to-be husband, who she has never met.

Borchardt spares nothing in letting you feel the dirt underneath Regeane's fingernails, letting you smell the urine and stale liquor on her cousin. Ripe with sensual and scentual images, the reader is thrust back into this time where nothing is fair, and everyone can be your enemy. Yet, Regeane finds friendship among the danger - her closest friend ends up being one of the most fascinating characters - Rome's most esteemed courtsean, the beguiling Lucilla.

Does Regeane find happiness? Is she able to sate the wolf, and yet live as a noblewoman? If you have a love of werewolves, but are looking for something different than urban fantasy, let Borchardt take you back into the days of Rome where you will run along with Regeane under the full moon and feel the thrill of freedom. And if you enjoy this one, there are two more to come.

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