Each time I read a TJ Klune novel I find myself in awe. I’ve only read three books–How to Be a Normal Person, Murmuration and now Wolfsong–and I’m always blown away by his storytelling. I’d love for him to one day teach a class about how he creates and crafts a story as I would sign up for that with no hesitation.
I don’t usual pick up paranormal books either, but two lines in the blurb caught me. First, “Ox was 16 when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.” And then, “Ox was 23 when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his blood red eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.” (Actually, the shocking thing about the blurb is that it gives away large chunks of what happens in the first half of the book.)
As you can probably guess by the title, Wolfsong deals in werewolves. Ox isn’t one. He’s just a guy who was told by his dad that he wouldn’t amount to much. One day, Ox meets Joe, the boy–a little tornado, who would change everything. Joe’s family are werewolves and Joe was abducted by an evil wolf, looking for power. Joe has to talk to Ox. Has to find out who Ox is.
That begins a journey that runs a decade (maybe a bit more) that runs the gambit from coming of age and first love to making hard choices about the survival of family and pack. Like some other books by TJ, it’s hard to discuss the book without giving things away that are best experienced by the reader for the first time. Not only is the story of Joe and Ox powerful as a romance (albeit a far form normal one) and as an intense journey of self discovery, but the intertwining stories of their friends and family and the importance of Joe and Ox to them is as beautiful as it can be devastating.
Kirt Graves, in his audiobook debut, does an extraordinary job. I have to call out his performance of Joe. Joe ages from nine into his early twenties and his transformation over the years from little tornado to a battle worn twenty-something is beyond perfect. Graves also does a perfect job as Ox, who narrates the story. Ox is complex and goes through so many ups and downs over the course of the eighteen hour plus book, Graves captures the joy, fear, unsureness, heartbreak and everything else so incredibly. (Just recently released is Graves’ performance of Klune’s Murmuration and I think I’m going to have to pick that up and see what he’s done with that incredible book.)
Even if paranormal isn’t your thing, I’d recommend giving this a try because there’s so much great here that goes far beyond werewolves.
NOTE: I received a free audiobook for an honest review for Jeff & Will’s Big Gay Fiction Podcast.