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Wolfsong by TJ Klune

A review by Nalini Haynes

Ox is a lonely teenager with an undisclosed disability working part-time in a mechanical garage while at high school, cared for by his single mom. One day he meets a primary school aged boy who takes him to meet the family who moved in to the house at the end of the lane. Suddenly Ox has friends and family. But it’s complicated. Their lack of availability around the time of the full moon is a hint as to why. They’re all out doing their wolfsong stuff at that time.

Cue found family, romance and werewolf territory tropes.

This is a good thing. (I just finished reviewing How Many More Women, I’m running out of words today.)

Australia vs the rest of the world

After reading The Extraordinaries, which I loved, and then Wolfsong, I looked up TJ Klune on Audible to see what was available. Imagine my surprise when I saw that all the Extraordinaries and Wolfsong books are already there, plus more, because Australia is SO DAMNED FAR BEHIND THE REST OF THE WORLD.

via GIPHY

But I guess at least it means that this “new” author I’ve discovered has more books available!

Disability

It’s unclear what Ox’s alleged disability is. He’s physically capable so apparently it’s not that. Early on the story seemed to imply a learning disability and yet Ox studied for and graduated from high school. The people I know who have learning disabilities did not finish high school as graduates. Ox is taciturn so it’s possible it was some kind of speech impediment but, when he wishes, Ox is quite vocal. Unless his disability is some kind of selective mutism that is not mentioned in the book, I am not convinced.

I prefer that disability is not mentioned rather than this kind of dubious presentation.

Still, it’s better than Daredevil, amiright?

via GIPHY

You know I’m right.

Sexytimes

The romantic relationship is a bit squicky at first: too-young boy chasing after older teenager transitions into not-yet-legal boy chasing after 20-something. Considering the complexity, especially if teens are reading this, I advise caution. However, it is the younger person pursuing the relationship, well before the older boy even registers him as a possible love interest.

There are two very explicit sex scenes, which is quite impressive for a book of this heft. Klune’s exploration of the characters and their journey reveals itself in those sex scenes.

Absence of safe sex precautions is problematic. On the other hand, the graphic descriptions may inspire people to explore in safe and healthy ways.

The verdict

Wolfsong is a werewolf thriller with romantic overtones. It appears at first glance to be a young adult novel but, by the time the relationship is consummated, the boys are both men. Found family, responsibility, and caring for vulnerable people are strong themes amidst the teeth and claws and testosterone-fueled conflict.

Could do with omission of mention of disability and inclusion of safe sex practices – after all, some consider prophylactics sexy. The inclusion of non-wolf people in the family/pack is, I think, original to Klune. I applaud.

I highly recommend.

Book details

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
ISBN: 9781035002146
Imprint: Tor UK (PanMacmillan Australia)
Format: Trade Paperback, 576 pages
Released: 2022
Category: Fiction, Fantasy, romance, LGBTQIA+ (Gay)

Wolfsong: a wolf howls in front of a harvest moon

Nalini
Nalinihttps://www.darkmatterzine.com
Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.

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