Author: T.J. Klune
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.
It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.
Review: At twelve, Oxnard Matheson watches as his father walks out the door and out of he and his mother’s life, leaving him with the parting words that he is dumb as an ox, and that he would be given crap throughout most of his life. During the next four years, Ox and his mother put their family back together going from one where there was three, to one that is made of just the two of them. Gordo, the owner of the garage where Ox’s father had worked, allows Ox to help around the garage, making sure Ox and his mother are okay and helping them when they need it.
When Ox turns fifteen, Gordo gives him a stack of work shirts for the garage, embroidered with his name. Like he belonged there. Like he was important. His days are filled with school and working in the garage. He has a mother who loves him and Gordo who cares about and looks out for him, along with Rico, Tanner and Chris, the other mechanics from the garage. Life goes on in the slowly dying mountain town of Green Creek, Oregon.
At sixteen, Ox discovers a new definition of family after he meets a little tornado in the shape of an almost eleven year old boy waiting for him on the dirt lane that leads past his home. The house that just past his own, the one at the end of the lane, had stood empty for as long as Ox could remember. Now it is again occupied by a family, the youngest being Joe Bennett. Ox couldn’t have known the importance of the day Joe insists Ox accompany him back to the house at the end of the lane so he could demand his parents tell him how Ox could possibly smell of candy canes and pinecones. Of epic and awesome. The same day, when Joe finds out it’s Ox’s birthday, that he nervously presents Ox with a small stone wolf. Seeing it is obviously special to the young boy, Ox’s first reaction is to refuse – after all Ox is nobody, nothing special – but an instinct tells him it would mean a lot to Joe for him to accept the gift. As Joe tells Ox, he wouldn’t just give his wolf to anyone.
When seventeen, Ox discovers a new world, and the secrets of the family that has welcomed him with open arms, along with his mother, into their midst as their own. It is the day Ox discovers werewolves and witches and learns about tethers, and why Joe hadn’t spoken for over a year up until the day they had met. It is the day his life changes.
Wolfsong is the tale of someone ordinary who is swept up in the world of the extraordinary, and along the way discovers what everyone who cared about him told him all along – he is more than a nobody. He is more than he ever knew. The writing in this book is gorgeous. The words flow around and within you as they weave their magic. Morphing from succinct to poetic, shaped into what is needed to best tell their tale. Told from Ox’s POV, this story charts Ox’s journey from a boy who couldn’t see his own worth, who didn’t realise he was special just for being himself, to a man tempered by the fires of pain and love, confident in the knowledge of who he was and what he would do for those he willingly found himself responsible for. And wow, what an epic journey it was! Family, love, heartache, loss, fear, pack, strength, betrayal, defeats and victories. This book has it all. I think my favourite part of this story, though, was seeing Ox slowly come into his own – from believing he was too dumb to succeed at anything, to a confident man secure in himself and believing in his capabilities – it truly was special.
The character development and world-building are both first class. I believed the world these characters inhabited. I believed the lives they lived and the battles they fought and the bonds they shared. Each and every character felt real. I laughed with Carter and Kelly and I smiled with Rico, Chris and Tanner at their affectionate teasing. I cried with Ox for his pain of loss and my heart soared when he found the place he belonged and the person he always was but hadn’t been able to see. I ached with Joe and the choices he felt he had to make and hoped along with him that things would work out for them in the end. These people all felt so very real. Their lives, their fears, their joys and their loves. And I loved experiencing their emotional rollercoaster of a story along with them. I adored all of them (well, not the villains so much. They were downright scary!), but the MCs completely stole my heart, each for different reasons and I so needed to see them win, to see their love survive.
TJ Klune writes emotion superbly. From laughing out loud to tears in my eyes in just a couple of sentences, the raw emotion is captured perfectly. And it’s that deft portrayal that makes this book such a captivating read. There were the odd moments that had me wondering how something was possible, and the pacing dragged a little in a couple of spots, but mostly I would describe this book as candy canes and pinecones. As epic and awesome.
I really want Gordo and Mark’s story. I want them to be happy, too! Oh, and Robbie, Carter, Kelly, Rico, Gordo…they need their stories told. I have my fingers crossed that we get them as well.