Series: Legends of the Wolf #1
Published by Ballantine Books on June 16, 1998
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Regeane is a fatherless royal relation who happens to be a werewolf. Her guardian, Gundabald, and his venal son Hugo plan to recoup their fortunes by marrying Regeane to a wealthy bridegroom, even though she might inadvertently make him into a bedtime snack. Gundabald forces her into apparent compliance by threatening to reveal her secret to the Church, which would burn her at the stake. As the bridegroom, Maeniel, journeys to Rome to claim her, Regeane discovers allies in her quest to defeat Gundabald's machinations, including some very strong, funny, and levelheaded women. Unfortunately for Regeane, she also has more powerful enemies than Gundabald.
Alice Borchardt brings 8th-century Rome vividly to life. Her language is earthy and sensuously descriptive: "The wolf visited Regeane's eyes and ears. The girl staggered slightly with the shock. The light in the square became intense. Smells an overwhelming experience: wet stone, damp air, musty clothing, perspirations shading from ancient sticky filth to fresh acrid adrenal alarm."
Borchardt is Anne Rice's sister, but she writes a very different sort of tale. Ghosts, the dead, and supernatural forces are here, but so is laugh-out-loud humor and a happy ending. --Nona Vero
Regeane is a half-Saxon and half-Frankish woman without a father; her mother, Gisela is the cause of his death. After Gisela discovers that Woflstan, Regeane’s father, is a shape shifter and is able to take the form of a wolf she is convinced by her brother Gundabald that he must be the devils child and must be killed. Gisela is thankful that her daughter doesn’t appear to have any of the traits of her father; however, when she gets older she gains the ability to change into a wolf as well. Regeane had an extremely hard life as her mother attempted to ‘fix her’ and forces her to drink concoctions, pray for hours on end, and to swear that she would never change into the wolf. Nothing works.
When Gisela dies, Regeane is left in the care of Gundabald and his son Hugo who treat her horribly by keeping her locked in her room, feeding her scraps, and barely passable clothing. Gundabald informs her one day that she is to be wed to a wealthy mountain lord named Maeniel. Scared for her life she runs away from Gundabald and seeks solace in the care of Lucilla, the Pope’s mistress. Lucilla learns of her secret and promises to keep her as safe as possible from having her future-husband discover it as well. As Regeane says regarding Maeniel:
”I don’t plan to love him. I plan to survive him.”
The characters were positively vibrant. Regeane was the epitome of strength and smart beyond her years. My favorite though? Maeniel. He has his own secrets just as Regeane and you can’t help but be entranced by him as well. Read it, you’ll see exactly what I mean. 🙂 Regeane and Maeniel didn’t meet until close to the end of the book, but the passion and love that developed between the two was well worth the wait.
Just a Note
I feel the need to write a word of warning for this novel. Many of you who have briefly scanned over the summary of this novel and said, “Oooh! Werewolves!” Stop and listen before you read this, end up severely disappointed and end up rating it all kinds of awful. This is what I like to call a ‘big girl book’. You will not find any melodrama here nor any love triangles. The main character may be a teen girl; however, you will not find any typical YA storylines here. I think a lot of people have the wrong expectations when going into this book. This is like, werewolves being thrown into a Game of Thrones or Mists of Avalon type storyline. Very mature writing, very mature situations, just with a teen girl that turns into a wolf.
This book has been on my bookshelf for YEARS. Being a huge fan of Anne Rice I had always wanted to read her sisters writing as well. Yep, Alice Borchardt is the sister of Anne Rice. But as far as my first experience with Alice Borchardt’s writing? I was not disappointed in the least. This was truly a book to be savored rather than gulped down, so don’t let the fact that it took me forever to read it discourage you.
This was a very detailed and intricate story that was beautiful in its intensity. Alice Borchardt was an extremely talented writer and it’s a shame that she isn’t around to continue creating beautiful stories. I finished this book with a smile on my face and will most definitely be reading more from her soon.
My Favorite Quote
“Love is eternal. That is its terror and its final beauty. Love never ends. The joy may go out of it, and, in time, even the pain may end. But it lingers like a living thing and follows you every moment of your life.”