Release Date: July 26, 2011
(I got my ARC from the RT Convention.)
Published by: Philomel
I know it's still a little early to review Wolfsbane, and I had planned on doing it later, but my hands keep moving towards it when I'm trying to study. I need to pack this book away instead of rereading it... again... and again. (Yes, it's that good.)
**This review is not very spoiler filled. I would say, however, that if you haven't already read at least the first chapter of Wolfsbane online here, then you may not want to continue reading and/or may be surprised by #8. Also, if you intend on reading Nightshade, check that out before reading this so the ending to that isn't spoiled for you.**
Wolfsbane (Nightshade #2) by Andrea Cremer
When Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemies, she's certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer--one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack--and the man--she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.
1. (+) Calla Tor, the protagonist - One of the best things about Nightshade had been Calla because she was such a strong female protagonist. That continues in Wolfsbane, even while Calla struggles with the consequences of her actions from Nightshade. She's a warrior through and through.
2. (+) World-building - You know, I don't usually like werewolf books. That's why I hadn't ordered Nightshade until a while after it had been released, but I gave it a chance.... and was promptly blown away by the world-building, especially by the intertwining of the werewolves as Guardians with the Keepers and their enemies, the Searchers... And here I am, after finishing Wolfsbane, still blown away by the world-building. I loved the details Cremer added (i.e. the differences between the Searchers & Keepers, Shay's role in all of this, Haldis, etc.). I can't wait to find out more in Blood Rose!
3 & 4. (+) The Writing (dialogue & description in particular) - As an aspiring writer, I appreciate Cremer's work and think that I would even use her writing as an example of great dialogue and consistent POV. Not only is the dialogue entertaining, but it's also indicative of the character who's speaking (which may be the reason why I love Connor so much). This also happens because of how Cremer wrote Calla's POV--Calla, as an alpha, doesn't comment on the environment unless it's something useful to her. Yet, those descriptions still entraced me, emphasizing the power of the words Cremer chose. Great writing. Great development of character through dialogue (since, as I pointed out, the descriptions aren't as lengthy as in other books).
5. (+) Character Development - Old characters become more complex in this sequel. I can't say much beyond that because of spoilers, but when Cremer writes "betrayal, fear, pain, loss... how many trials can love survive," you bet there are going to be some trying episodes for our beloved character cast.
6. (+) New Characters - CONNOR!! Favorite character of this book. Just like the old characters, all of the newly introduced characters are fleshed out well and people with whom the reader can sympathize are introduced... (you know, in case you didn't already notice my all caps declaration of love for Connor).
7. (+) The Romance - First off, I was shocked when Cremer said that some of the criticisms of Nightshade was that it was too much lust and not enough love. One, of course there will be lust--appearances do count, and man, if you read the first chapter and didn't think that would be a part of the story, then you need to read closer. Secondly, Calla is a werewolf. She perceives the world in terms of how things would be threatening/necessary/etc. and doesn't spend time thinking on and on about somebody... but if you examine her actions, you can see how she's feeling. And hell, those decisions are not made by somebody in the throes of lust. *Getting back to the point, however-- let me just say that the romance in Wolfsbane was satisfying for me. Yet, I also wasn't rooting for one particular "team" so other readers may not like Calla's choices. Still, you can appreciate how well-written it is even if your "team" doesn't "win."
8. (+) Themes/Separation into 3 parts - Purgatory/Inferno/Paradiso. Loved the way the book was separated into three parts. Doing that really highlighted the themes of the novel.
9. (--) Cliffhanger - Just as in Nightshade, this book ends on a pretty big cliffhanger... though with Nightshade, I could read the first chapter of Wolfsbane and somewhat get a feel for the book, but the first chapter for Blood Rose isn't up yet and probably won't be for a while :/. I understand why Cremer ended Wolfsbane the way she did, but that doesn't make me any happier about the cliffhanger.
10. (+) The Cover - Both this cover and the new one are absolutely gorgeous. The new one reflects the more mature themes of the novel and Calla's strength while this one fits in with the old, photoshopped and attention grabbing cover of Nightshade (aka the cover that first attracted me to the story anyways).
One concern I have is that there will be a lot to cover in Blood Rose, but given Cremer's talent, I'm sure she'll resolve the issues accordingly. And even better, Cremer said there will be more books to expect from her about this world! (A Nightshade prequel in 2012 and a Harrowing book at some point. Yay!)
Get excited about Wolfsbane! You won't be disappointed :).