(2019) Nalini Singh, Gollancz, £18.99, hrdbk, 392pp, ISBN 978-1-473-22806-1
Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh is the third novel in the 'Psy-Changeling Trinity' series that follows Ocean Light, but it also seems to fit with a much larger network of short stories and novellas set in the same world.
The story begins with Alexi, a wolf changeling, who discovers a young woman trapped in prison to be the plaything of a psychopath, Renault. Needless to say, Alexi rescues her, and we see the, perhaps inevitable, playing out of the development of their relationship, this is after all a supernatural romance.
The young woman rescued, Memory, has quite interesting psychic powers, she has been described as an empath, but she knows herself to be quite different, she has the ability to allow a sociopath to feel and understand emotion if she physically touches them. The effects last for a while and allowed Renault to blend in and so be a more effective killer. Unsurprisingly the killer wants her back.
I found the setting for this story to be quite interesting, a period of time that went before is called the Silence, which is never fully explained by seems to have been a time when all psychic powers were aggressively controlled in some way. While that sounds bad, it seems to have had a positive effect also of keeping those people alive, without it people are dying. The only alternative seems to be Empaths holding everyone together in a psychic network of some sort, which gives them their freedom and control. However, Empaths are rare and need training to be effective. The novel is quite cleverly written that you only get glimpses of what is going on in the wider world and are left convinced that if you read more stories in the same world setting maybe you would find out more of what is really going on.
The theme of 'freedom versus control' runs throughout the novel, Memory’s physical freedom, but also her lack of control over her life and her powers. Renault tries to control others, his victims, but particularly Memory. Alexi tries to resist being with Memory because of the issues in his past restricting his options, but ultimately having no choice in how it goes if he wishes her to live. Pax is a strong psy-power who cannot control his gift and risks harming others. The Silence controlled others and now those with psy-powers have their freedom, but it might kill them.
Singh breaks up the narrative with excerpts from sources such as official sounding reports and a gossip magazine, which is an interesting device to drop hints about thing going on in the world or bring in a different perspective.
This novel goes at a good pace, though the love story is a little predictable even if elevated by the interesting setting. It has relatable characters, despite their supernatural elements, and is easy to read. If you enjoy supernatural romance with a little intrigue, then this is definitely worth reading.
See also Jane's take on Wolf Rain.
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