Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review: Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer


by Andrea Cremer

Series: The Witches War (#2)
Pages: 390
Publisher: Atom Books
Published: July 26th, 2011
IBSN: 9781907410307

This thrilling sequel to the much-talked-about Nightshade begins just where it ended. Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemy, and she's certain her days are numbered. 

But then the Searchers make her an offer,one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack and the man she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.

Wolfsbane is the sequel to Andrea Cremer's unique and imaginative debut, Nightshade, and it picks up immediately after its predecessor's conclusion. I read the last chapter of Nightshade before beginning Wolfsbane to refresh my memory, and they fit together seamlessly.

The first third of Wolfsbane read like the 'Last time on ____' at the beginning of TV shows, showing clips that conveniently remind you of all of the plot threads that'll be continued in this episode. After that, it read like a history lesson. Calla, now with the Searchers, spends a considerable amount of time being told in depth (punctuated with plenty of meekly accepted "we'll tell you later"s) about their history with the Keepers.

Much of the focus of Nightshade was Calla slowly discovering things that contradicted her idea of the Keepers and her gradual realisation that the people she's looked up to her whole life are lying to her. In Wolfsbane, that's all replaced with info-dumps delivered by characters the Calla I came to like wouldn't have trusted so easily.

Many of the things I admired about Calla in Nightshade didn't hold up in Wolfsbane, with her feeling like an almost completely different character. She acts self-centered without her pack around to think for, when after her escape is when they needed their leader the most. She's safe with the Searchers to the point of boredom, and she resigns to spending her time lamenting about her love life when there were much more pressing things to address.

The only character I can say I actually felt for is Ren, whose ordeal motivated terrible decisions but still had me feeling sorry for him.

The real action is saved for the near-end, and the whole plot of this installment felt to me like it existed to bridge the gap between Nightshade and Bloodrose and prepare for the overall plot arc of the Witches War. I've never understood 'second book syndrome' before, but I think Wolfsbane has helped me with that.

Though I really do like the image Cremer painted to leave us on, Calla standing outside the house that would have been hers if she stayed with the Keepers.

I feel like I've read a completely different book to many of the people who've reviewed Wolfsbane and have nothing but glowing praise. I still plan to finish this series, but my excitement for the release of Bloodrose is mostly residual from reading Nightshade.

I give Wolfsbane a 2 out of 5.