Wolfsbane is the continued story of Nightshade’s alpha wolf Calla Tor as she struggles to come to terms with the deceit, betrayal, and lies that have thrown her world into upheaval and branded her as an outcast without her pack. The Searchers, traditional enemies of the Keepers and the Guardians, have asked for Calla’s aid, and, despite misgivings, she promises she will help. At the same time, Calla is conflicted by her growing love for Shay and her lingering feelings for Ren. Shay is the smart and funny human boy whom Calla saved from sure death; the boy who has also been revealed as the Scion and the only one who can end the decades-long war between Keepers and Searchers. Ren is the sexy, passionate Bane wolf that Calla has been betrothed to her whole life; the one she still loves despite persistent bitter feelings over her lack of control in her own destiny. Calla’s clearly chosen Shay… but how can she forget Ren, who risked his life just so she and Shay could escape?
The first third of the novel is bogged down by never-ending exposition and petty squabbling between Calla and the Searchers and the Searchers among themselves, and it’s really hard to trudge through. I think this must be the curse of the sequel; the second book in a trilogy always seems to force readers to wade through explanations in lieu of plot. It goes without saying that fantasy novelists will eventually have to explain why their world is the way it is, but there has to be a better way to do it – namely one that doesn’t have me rolling my eyes and snapping my fingers, saying, “Yes, yes, that’s nice, but… get to the point!” I’ve always been of the opinion that in-novel history lessons should be used sparingly and never all at once, but I guess that idea hasn’t quite caught on yet. To be fair, the pace really picks up after the exposition and holds steady at ‘exhilarating’ for the rest of the novel, but there is one other issue I had with Wolfsbane.
Prior to reading Wolfsbane I heard some murmurs in the blogosphere that Shay undergoes an unflattering personality change in this installment. After reading, sadly, I have to agree. This is probably the first time I’ve changed alliances in one of these love triangle plots, and that’s significant because I was gushing over Shay in the first book. But I’m not Team Ren, either – I’ve decided I like both characters just fine, but only when they’re not romantically involved with Calla.
The reason I liked Shay so much in the first place was because he was so different from typical young adult heroes; he was strong and smart, but sweet and shy at times, too, and he definitely lacked that uncontrollable ‘alpha male syndrome’ many males have whenever there is estrogen in the vicinity. Well, that’s changed completely in Wolfsbane. Unlike in Nightshade, there are actually moments in Wolfsbane where I stared in disgust at something Shay had done or said and thought, “Wow, what a jerk.” I want to write off Shay’s change as a combination of his young age, the changes to his relationship with Calla, and his new condition as a Guardian, but that doesn’t quite excuse it, either. Just once I’d like to see a man who doesn’t become possessive, arrogant, and selfish when his mate/girlfriend is concerned. Is this really what women want in their relationships? Jealous cavemen? Okay, then I‘ve decided: no dating werewolves. Or angels, vampires, or anything else. What’s left? Fairies?
Besides the sluggish beginning and my obvious disappointment in Shay, Wolfsbane is still an epic read. Lots of pulse pounding action interspersed with genuine scenes of emotional heartbreak. Shay may have lost a fangirl, but I’m still a fan of Andrea Cremer.
Sydnee is a freshman at Wayne State University pursuing a degree in Journalism. She is obsessed with hunky heroes, explosions, melodrama, and magic—all things that make a frequent appearance in her stories. Her blog is http://syd-dreams.blogspot.com. Find her on Figment at http://figment.com/users/62-Sydnee-Thompson.