Review: Wolfking by Sarah Rayne (Wolfking #1)


Wolfking by Sarah Rayne // VBCWolfking (Wolfking #1)
Sarah Rayne
Published: April 29, 2016 (Endeavor Press/Venture Press)
Purchase: Amazon
Review Source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Reviewed by: Beth

Rating (out of 5): 2.5 stars

Note: This is a digital re-release of the book, originally published in the early 1990s

I love Irish legends and myths, and the idea of some time traveling and wolves to go with is right up my alley. Throw in an apocalypse, the remaining survivors, and some magic, and what could go wrong? Sadly, quite a bit could—and did—go wrong, though there were some redeeming features that eventually fell into place.

The story itself definitely had some high points, though they didn’t start really showing up until the last 40 percent of the book (at least, according to my Kindle). In a way, it was almost like the second half of the book was written by a totally different person. In the first half, the descriptions tended toward the overly long and the characters often felt sort of half-there, almost like they were being conjured and the spell was only partially complete, leaving a ghostly image of what might be. In addition, far too much of the plot seemed to depend on some very convenient happenings that knocked me right out of the story. However, the second half was significantly better–the story was of a quicker pace, the multiple and extremely varied plot lines started to come together in ways that (mostly) made sense, and…there was less sex.

So—onto that. I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but the first half of the book contained a lot of sex. Some of it violent, tending toward rape, some bestiality, and some fairly straightforward. To me, sex is like rampant cursing in a story—if it furthers the storyline or fits a character, then I’m all for it. But if it feels like the plot could advance just as well without it, or like the author was including it just to have it there, then…that bothers me. Basically, if it detracts instead of bolsters the story, then I see it as a problem. Here, in several cases, there really didn’t seem to be a need for it. Some, I could see as part of the story AND the character development. Some felt forced and unnecessary. However, again, once I hit the second half of the story, it all but disappeared, and the story actually seemed to work much better without it.

As for the characters, while they did seem to come together in the last half of the story as well, the author also switched viewpoints a lot. It was often confusing to keep up, and I ended up going back to re-read parts as I realized that somewhere I had lost something.

Once I got past the first half of the story, Wolfking actually started to become something I enjoyed. The great tragedy (and what Irishman doesn’t love a tragedy?) is that I had to wade through the first half in order to get to the second. But ultimately, for me as a reader, it comes down to whether I would want to read another book in the series. And while the second half of this one was enjoyable, the first half was just too much work. And so, I would have to say no to any further books.

Sexual content: rape, bestiality, graphic sex, sexual violence

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