Rating 5/5 ⭐
I started typing this review for Once There Were Wolves several times but found myself stopping to see If I was appropriately conveying just how much I loved this book. I will admit, it is odd to say that I loved it, as the topics of this novel are heavy and, quite frequently, disturbing in nature. Despite all that, I devoured this book. What really sold it for me was the incredible writing style of Charlotte McConaghy. Her prose was lyrical, and I often returned to sections just to read what she had written one more time to really have it sink in. Her ability to describe, even when it was regarding the disturbing aspects, made me feel like I was emersed in every part of this story. It has been quite some time since I have a ready a book that left such a lasting impression on me.
“When we were eight, Dad cut me open from throat to stomach”. This is how we are introduced to Inti, and her twin sister Aggie, who have just arrived in the Scottish Highlands with a team of scientists to reintroduce wolves as part of a program to heal the struggling wilderness. Moving to Scotland for Inti is just as much about saving the wilderness as it is about saving her sister and healing from their past. As Inti begins to find her way in this new environment and, dare she say relax a bit due to the wolves thriving, a local famer ends up missing and tensions rise between the local townsfolk and the “wolf people”. Inti knows that they will blame the wolves, and what if it was the wolves? Or what if it was something far more sinister…another human?
I am hesitant to give a more complete description then this as part of what made reading this book so enjoyable to me was not knowing much about it before diving in. While there should be many trigger warnings on this book in terms of topics that may prove unsettling for people (i.e. sexual assault, animal deaths, violence, etc.), the author managed to turn it into a powerful novel of survival both in the wild wilderness, and in the wild human world. What a gorgeous book. I highly recommend reading this.
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