Wednesday 7 September 2022


Book review: Wolfsong by TJ Klune [blog tour]

At the start of this year I FINALLY joined the TJ Klune hype train. I read The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door back-to-back and was instantly obsessed with the beautifully heartfelt and unique magical worlds created by Klune's imagination. Needless to say, I was thrilled to discover that one of his older series, Green Creek, is now being released in the UK so I can continue to build my collection. 

When Oxnard Matheson is 12 years old, his father walks out on him, leaving him feeling unwanted and aimless. But on his 16th birthday, everything changes. The Bennett family moves in next door in the woods where he lives with his mother, and amongst them is 10-year-old Joe. Joe, who due to trauma hasn't spoken a single word in nearly two years, yet after meeting Ox he doesn't stop talking. They become instant best friends. Suddenly, Ox belongs somewhere and feels wanted. 

But the Bennetts aren't quite what they seem. While Ox spends every hour that he's not working or at school at their house, there are some days a month he's not welcome. Strangers sometimes visit and things turn ominous. And what happened to Joe that made him stop speaking in the first place? When Ox eventually finds out the truth, danger is advancing on their home in Green Creek – and he becomes entangled in a complex plot of good and evil that has been dividing creatures like the Bennetts for decades. 

The book's title and the Bennetts disappearing around the full moon, make it fairly obvious to the reader what direction the story is headed. And yet the world building of the mythology as seen through the naive eyes of Ox was still incredibly engaging, giving the reader plenty to think – and speculate – about, without guessing the full complexity of what is about to unfold. 

Ox's connection to Joe, and the wider Bennett pack, is much more intricate than it seems to be in the beginning, which makes for a really compelling – and sometimes surprising – storyline progression. Especially in the first half of the book, where the emphasis is more on friendship, family, and world-building, this made for a really engrossing reading experience. 

This feels very much like a story of two halves, however. The first two-thirds or so of the book were slower, focusing on developing the characters, their relationships, and the world they found themselves in. I absolutely loved this part of the novel. Sure, there were hints of the Twilight-era throughout, but it felt more genuine and thought out – less like a YA fan fiction. TJ Klune's writing is stunning, with atmospheric storytelling and really interesting sentence structures and time jumps that work perfectly to move the story along without feeling jarring.

The last third of the novel, however, was not for me. It focused much more on a romantic relationship that to me felt abrupt and forced (not in a non-consensual way, but within the context of the wider story). Some of the sexual scenes were also very graphic. Whereas the start of the novel felt more innocent in tone, it very much became R-rated towards the end. I'm sure many readers will have found these parts in the novel enjoyable, even "swoon-worthy", but they absolutely didn't work for me and tainted my overall reading experience. 

Had these part of the novel not been there, I would've pre-ordered the rest of the series immediately. As it stands, I'm not sure I will continue on with it, as I expect it'll only became more adult and explicit as the characters age further. Instead, I'll hope TJ Klune continues to turn his incredibly beautiful writing and wondrous imagination to brand-new magical stories that are more wholesome in tone; more Under the Whispering Door and the House in the Cerulean Sea and less Twilight for an adult audience. 

Wolfsong by TJ Klune is published by Tor (Pan Macmillan) and you can now buy a copy from your favourite book shop.

Blog tour stops for Wolfsong by TJ Klune

This review for Wolfsong is a part of the official blog tour for the launch of the book. Make sure to check out the other stops too!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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