Book Review

Once There Were Wolves


Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy, a Book Review by @barbaradelinsky #OnceThereWereWolves #BookReview #reading

I loved ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES. You may not. It is beautifully written but emotionally tough, a story that delves into environmental causes, sexual trauma, and trust.

Typically, Charlotte McConaghy takes an earth issue and wraps it in a personal interest plot. In her last book, MIGRATIONS, she took us to Greenland with a main character searching for both the last flock of Arctic terns and herself. This new book, ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES, takes place in the Scottish highlands. Here, our main character is the lead biologist of a team tasked with reintroducing wolves to Scotland for the sake of naturally culling the deer population that is deforesting the land.

Inti Flynn is a biologist like no other. Raise alternately with her mother in Australia and her father in British Columbia, she has a rare neurological condition of heightened empathy, whereby she physically feels what those around her most urgently feel. If she hits someone, she feels their pain. If she watches an animal being killed, she feels the slice of the knife. Moreover, Inti lives with her twin sister, who has a complex history that we only slowly learn.

Even beyond these two, the characters are fascinating – deeply drawn and unique. And then there’s the land, a definite character here. And the wolves, of course, the wolves. I’ve always been intrigued by wolves. If you are a sheep farmer out west, you may not be, so again I caution you to think twice before reading this book.

Either way, this book is worth the read. McConaghy’s writing is vividly descriptive in the most modest of ways, her characters original, her plot twists unexpected. I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator was wonderful. What can I say?  I’m a sucker for Scottish accents.

I found ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES to be a gem and will be looking forward to the next book by this writer.

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