The Wolf Gift
Knopf, Feb 14 2012, $26.95
San Francisco Observer reporter twentyish Reuben comes from a privileged heritage filled with a stately mansion. His editor sends him to interview elegant and exotic late thirtyish Marchent Nideck who desperately wants to sell the estate in Mendocino County she inherited from her great Uncle Felix who vanished two decades but only now is declared legally dead. Used to Russian and Nob Hills, he still finds the isolated mansion, four hours from San Francisco and miles even from the village of Nideck, incredibly beautiful, nicer than any home he has ever seen before. Reuben feels an obsession to know the recent tragic history of Nideck Mansion. Though he has a girlfriend Celeste in the city, Reuben and Marchent make love.
When he awakens from a nap, Reuben hears Marchent scream. He races to the noise only to be attacked by two men; one cuts him with a knife and a ferocious dog bites him. As he thinks he is dying, first responders arrive, but the intruders are gone and his hostess is dead. A few weeks later, a still traumatized Reuben begins displaying strange physical and mental changes. He fears what he has become, but seeks similar beasts to mentor him.
This is an entertaining Wolf-man urban fantasy starring a beleaguered protagonist who loses his innocence with the assault. The storyline is fast-paced as the hero changes in a sort of horror coming of age theme. Although longtime fans will see parallels to the good and evil theme of the Vampire Chronicles and the personality metamorphose similar to Jack Nicholson’s middle-aged Will Randall in Wolf, readers will appreciate Anne Rice latest horror thriller.