The basic premise to Stiefvater’s werewolves is simple- cold temperatures change them into wolves while warmer switch them back to humans. The change can only be sustained so long though, the human times become shorter and shorter until a were just doesn’t turn back to a human again.
Grace was attacked by the wolves that live in the woods behind her home when she was very young, but was saved by a wolf with golden eyes, a wolf that then watches her throughout the following years. That wolf’s name is Sam, and he is in his last bit of time as a human, and desperate to stay that way, by any means possible, to stay with Grace as something other than a watcher from the woods.
I was delighted to read this one. For a YA werewolf romance, it was visceral and not at all dumbed down or glossed over. There is very little that can be considered romantic to Stiefvaqter’s were’s. Melancholy and brutality, yes. Romance of the condition, not so much. The consequences of being a werewolf in today’s society are examined, both from a personal and social point of view, and both the characters and the relationships they form are stronger for it.
Underneath all of that, this is a book about falling in love and being willing to fight for that feeling and the person that inspires it. It is about the bonds we choose to make.
I will start this review by pointing out I adore period pieces. I have a soft spot for urban fantasy. Urban fantasy set in a wonderfully rich historical setting? Sold.
The Native Star takes place in a slightly different late 1800’s America. Witches and Warlocks are standard fare and there are competing schools of magic. The schools themselves are amazingly well thought out and each have a fascinating culture of their own. Strong world building is what pulled me in to this novel, and a wonderful cast of characters kept me reading. Apart from the magical schools (credomancy being my favorite for the sheer brilliance of it’s design) there are the Aberrancies, creatures (and occasionally people) twisted by a dark matter the magical core of the earth exudes from time to time.
The protagonists are wonderfully human, with all the flaws and failings that implies, and the best of the villains are perfectly chilling. It is a love story worked very well into a grand tapestry of adventure, violence, and betrayal.
The book opens with a love charm gone terribly wrong, works its way through zombie miners that would kill to keep something buried, and the woman who unfortunately gets past them and winds up with an artifact of unprecedented power embedded in her hand.
And all of the competing magical schools would kill to have it in their possession.
What results is an excellent, fast-paced read that is very hard to put down.