(2019) Nalini Singh, Gollancz, £18.99, hrdbk, 392pp, ISBN 978-1-473-22806-1
This book is the third is a new trilogy within a broader series set in the same universe. The author is well known writing major-selling paranormal romance. I hadnít read the other books in this series before reading this one but have read others by the author, so she was not unknown to me. The Psy Changeling series mixes shapeshifters (werewolves and others) with empaths, telepaths and ordinary humans in a near-future America which is otherwise recognisable Ė there isnít a huge amount of new or unfamiliar technology and the landscape is pretty much unchanged.
The story behind the existence of these three groups is somewhat complicated and the explanation given in this book was limited, but those with Psy traits have been prevented from using them during a time called the Silence and have only recently been allowed to use their powers in restricted ways. This has created conflict both within this group and with the Changelings and humans.
Wolf Rain centres on two key characters, an empathic woman called Memory, and a werewolf called Alexei. The story starts when Alexei finds Memory in a hidden underground bunker in the territory that is patrolled by his group. Memory has been kept there, alone, for fifteen years so that a psychopath called Renault can feed off her empathic powers. This enables him to feel emotion until the effects wear off, at which point he returns for another hit. Alexei takes her back to his compound, where she meets the other shifters in his pack as well as their partners and children. Standard romance scenes then play out to a backdrop of the threat from Renault before a final showdown with a predictable outcome.
For anyone looking to read this series, I would not recommend starting with this book. There is very little explanation of the world or backstory, which makes it difficult to get into the plot or to fully understand the world in which the characters live. There are also numerous side characters who appear only briefly, who would have more impact with some understanding of who they are. It is always tricky to enter a series part way through, but a book can still work if the characters and story are interesting enough but, unfortunately, that wasnít the case here, at least not for me. As a character, Memory felt unfinished. We are told that she had been in captivity and effectively in isolation for 15 years, with an empathic power she was very frightened by, and yet she slipped quickly and easily into Alexeiís pack with no ill effects of her treatment. She had well developed social skills, which surely would be impossible in someone who had had virtually no contact with other people since the age of 8, and a fully developed adult vocabulary. There was no real long-lasting evidence of trauma.
The romance between Alexei and Memory also felt very easy and sadly lacking in conflict or tension. Alexeiís insta lust for a starved, abused woman felt inappropriate, and in the end, the development of their relationship was a bit predictable and tired, with overused pet names and endless reminders that Melody was small but mighty, and the barriers to their love were too easily overcome. In a long-running series there are always some books that donít quite hit the mark and unfortunately for me Wolf Rain is one of them.
For die-hard fans only.
See also Karen's take on Wolf Rain.
[Up: Fiction Reviews Index | SF Author: Website Links | Home Page: Concatenation]
[One Page Futures Short Stories | Recent Site Additions | Most Recent Seasonal Science Fiction News]
[Updated: 20.1.15 | Contact | Copyright | Privacy]