Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Book Review: Silver by Rhiannon Held

Pros: great characterizations, tackles tricky POV 

Cons: pack politics seem insane

When the Roanoke wolf pack’s enforcer, Andrew Dare, finds the lone wolf he’s been tracking in their territory, he’s horrified to discover the woman’s been tortured into madness.  He vows to help her find a home and take down whoever did this to her before they can strike again.

There are a lot of characters in the book, as several packs of werewolves are mentioned, though the author focuses of a few select people from each pack.  Because of all the people mentioned, however briefly, there’s a fantastic variety of temperaments and strength levels shown (ie, some women are dominant, others submissive, one man’s an alpha and a coward, another’s brave but submissive, etc).  This allows each character to feel like an individual rather than an archetype in the pack hierarchy (alpha, beta, mate…).  

Silver’s character is particularly interesting as she’s able to modify her pack status depending on the result she needs from those around her.  But her manipulations are only possible when she’s lucid enough to use them.  Which she isn’t, most of the time.  The author treats her madness with care, showing that, though she’s not always aware of her surroundings, she’s still a person with her own will and the right to make decisions for herself.  This is particularly important when her lucidity improves and people refuse to listen to her because all they see is the madwoman she was (and may be again).  I loved that it wasn’t clear if Silver’s visions of Death were hallucinations (as Andrew believes) or a real manifestation of their religion’s embodiment of evil.

Silver’s physical disabilities, particularly her arm that no longer works, are also dealt with well.  Her acceptance of her new limitations and lack of depression and self-pity are directly contrasted when another character is injured at the end of the book.  She’s shown as a character with true strength, despite her limitations.

I liked that the romantic elements were understated and felt real rather than forced.  The romance enters late and encounters realistic roadblocks caused by the plot and the problems the characters face.

Werewolves aren’t my favourite subjects because I find the pack politics of dominance and ‘no one matters outside our pack’ mentality insane and unsustainable.  Most of the problems in the book could have been solved easier and faster had the various packs communicated what was wrong.  The book therefore caused a bit of cognitive dissonance for me as I tried to wrap my head around how their system worked and railed against it’s stupidity.  And I acknowledge that this is my problem not the book’s.

On the whole I enjoyed the book and am interested to see how things progress in Tarnished.

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