Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , , , | Posted on 7:35 PM

Rating: 5/5 stars

This is a story about a girl and her wolf.

Grace has always known him by his yellow eyes, every winter since the wolves pulled her from the tire swing in the backyard. Her wolf. After she was attacked, she remembered his eyes, the way he pushed at her hand -- pushed the other wolves away, rescued her. Every winter since then, she sees him in the woods outside their house. She feels his gaze.

In the winter, Sam knows only two things: the instincts of the wolf and the longing for the girl. Even as an animal, he feels drawn to her, pulled by vague whispers of memory and need -- an instinct to protect that drove him against his pack that awful, bare winter, when they were desperate enough to kill.

In the winter, he is the wolf. In the summer, he is Sam. But he always remembers the girl.

Once you're bitten, the change is triggered by cold -- when the temperature plummets, every winter Sam loses his skin to the wolf, but every summer he returns. Except that his years as human are ultimately numbered. Each year, the change to wolf comes sooner -- early fall -- while the change back slips further and further into summer. Until the year Sam won't change back. Until he stays a wolf.

But then the hunters come, and Sam is shot, and Grace rescues him - and they both discover what they have been missing in each other. And what neither of them can bear to live without.

This is a love story, and it is lyrical and beautiful and quietly sad -- think Twilight, only minus the overdone swooning and disturbingly controlling-boyfriend behavior. It helps that the story balances between Grace's and Sam's points of view, and also that a) Grace is a highly practical and levelheaded girl, described by her mother as an emotional 'tank' b) Sam is a sensitive, kind boy (to the point of emo stereotype) and c) both characters recognize and mock these traits in each other, as appropriate. It also really helps not to have the "love you/eat you" vibe going on -- yes, Sam is a wolf in the winter. No, Sam is not have to battle the Beast Raging Within as some symbolic struggle against the male urge to ravish the nubile female. Sam loves Grace. Sam wants Grace (yes, in that way). Grace wants Sam (oh yes). And they are actually able to talk about these things without the sex turning into some dark animal urge that MUST BE DENIED for the sake of your soul!

Ahem. Sorry.

Anyway: Compelling story with a gorgeous, autumnal atmosphere and excellent characters with real lives within a lush, believable setting, and of course werewolves. What more could you want?

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