Series: State Changers: Book One
Author: Chris Fenwick
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Length: 254 Pages
Category: Paranormal/Fantasy, Lesbian Romance
At a Glance: More showing and less telling would have made for a much richer reading experience, but I did end up embracing Casidhe in the end, and found some of Wolf’s lore fascinating. Cas and Dana were sweet together as well, and I consider each of those things a win.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Her last family member dead; a young woman is left with too many frightening questions. The quest for answers uncovers her shocking heritage and magical shapeshifting powers.
Wolf is the story about a girl. Alone in the world, Casidhe Keneally is frightened to unravel her family’s secret, a secret her own body has been reporting in disturbing ways. She must travel far from the only home she has ever known, to uncover the clues her dead parents left her.
Tracked to a sleepy pub in Butte Montana, Casidhe somehow locates the strange people who can reveal the truth, but the discovery could, quite literally, kill her.
Amidst all the changes she struggles to assimilate, Casidhe meets Dana, a woman who simply cannot exist, sparking a fire inside herself, she cannot fight.
Her adventures take her deep into the realm of the Fae, the powerful and ancient Irish mythological beings, who she realizes still endure. But some Fae are angry she has returned and will not stop until she follows the way of her parents.
In Wolf, Casidhe discovers her true identity, finds her people, but also finds cruelty and danger as she learns what real magic looks and feels like.
Review: Anyone who’s familiar with my deep and abiding love for all things Fae and Paranormal Fantasy will understand what I mean when I say that this book should have been a slam dunk for me. Wolf has all the makings of a must-read story—a compelling premise, a young woman’s evolution, a sweet romance coupled with the bonds of an extraordinary magic—but I had some issues with its execution that have left me with mixed feelings. Without question there were things about the book I did end up loving, but it took some time and patience to find them.
Casidhe Keneally is not an immediately embraceable character, but it wasn’t for lack of a deep point of view. More so I owe it to the narrative voice. A story is only as good as its teller, and Chris Fenwick most definitely doesn’t lack imagination. A book, however, is only as good as its editing team, and this is where I felt Wolf needed a stronger hand. The dialogue is written with a formality that may have worked in a historical setting but in the contemporary—even in an alt-reality contemporary setting—came across as stiff and lacked the natural flow of conversation. Casidhe is seventeen, but it’s not until later in the story that we’re told she’s always been more adult than her years would indicate. Her manner of speech was an effort to reflect that, of course, and it did, to a point, but that formality subsequently hindered my ability to connect with her. That goes for all the dialogue, as a matter of fact, but this issue aside, once Casidhe is given full agency to explore the odd and inexplicable changes she’s going through—specifically an enhanced sense of smell and heightened sensitivity to noise along with unusual dreams—I enjoyed her journey of self-discovery.
The Keneally clan has a long and storied history connected to the Fae, and much of that history is told rather than shown by characters who serve as helpers on Casidhe’s journey. These details are relayed via monologues (I might even call them info dumps) during which it becomes clear atavism will be significant to her evolution, both as a wolf and within the pack. Where her deceased parents fit into the story and how she and her twin brother, Cian, may be an issue for some of the pack members, are also significant now and will continue to be going forward. There is a legend about opposite sex twins and a curse that follows them which promises to prove interesting as the series progresses and they come face to face for the first time in more than a decade.
It’s not until Casidhe embraces her status as a State Changer—this realm’s version of the familiar shapeshifter—accepts her place as a member of the pack, discovers her magic and goes through her transformation, and is attacked and captured by the Fae, that the story elevates itself to something just a bit more. The deep point of view as Cas becomes wolf, and the joy she finds in that becoming of something ‘other’ and giving up her status as a loner, was so well conveyed. This is also where the romance between her and the pack Alpha’s daughter, Dana, takes shape. There was a spark between them from the moment they met, but once Casidhe becomes wolf and sees her mate through the eyes of the wolf, their connection comes full circle.
There’s a point roughly halfway through the story where a character tells Casidhe, “There is so much more to it than what we can convey in conversation. You just have to live with us for a while, and you will pick it up.” This statement expresses precisely what I wanted more of from the book. Cas is told so much, and in lengthy detail, about things I wanted to see her live and experience herself as opposed to having it told to her and, as a result, to me. I feel it would have made for a much richer reading experience, but I did end up embracing Casidhe in the end, and found some of the -verse lore fascinating. Cas and Dana were sweet together as well, and I consider each of those things a win.
You can buy Wolf here:
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