book reviews · lgbt · t.j. klune · wolfsong

Wolfsong by T.J. Klune

wolfsong

“There was never anyone else the entire time I was gone. There was never anyone else for me. Because even if you couldn’t hear me when I called for you, the howl in my heart was always meant for you.”

For a few months, I was seeing Wolfsong everywhere. It seemed like everyone on Goodreads was reading – and loving – this novel and I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, especially when I found it was m/m. When I started reading it, I was blown away by the intricate and unique fantasy world T.J. Klune had created. Wolfsong is a story about loyalty, love, making your own family, and writing your own destiny.

When Ox was twelve, his daddy taught him that he wasn’t worth anything and that no one would understand him. Then he left. So Ox started working at the local mechanic’s store and built a small, happy life for himself. When Ox was sixteen, he met Joe, who’s family was moving into the house at the end of the lane. Joe talked and talked and talked. and Ox found out that, until that day, Joe hadn’t spoken for almost two years. The Bennetts took Ox in and treated him as one of their own. With them, he truly found himself, and a family. When Ox was seventeen, he found out the the Bennetts’s secret and was introduced to world of Alpha, Beta, Omega, a world of red, orange and violet. When Ox was twenty-three, a monster came to town and brought murder in his wake. Joe chased the monster away and left Ox to pick up the pieces he left behind. Three years later, Joe is back. But now, he’s a man and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.

This is my first T.J. Klune novel and it definitely won’t be my last. I have heard of this author but never given much thought to his novels because he mainly writes comedies, but I am glad I took a chance on this book. This is quite a dark, angsty novel, but the few comedic scenes are absolutely hilarious. Honestly, I don’t think I have laughed so much because of a novel in a very long time, and this has made me so excited to read Klune’s other works.

He took a step toward me. “We could… ah. You know.” He waggled his eyebrows at me and I thought, fuck. I took a step back.
“Or we could wait until you’re eighteen.”
Now he glared. There was a bit of wolf in it. “That’s not how this works.”
“Yeah, because you know how this works. With all the courting you’ve done.”
“I can’t wait until I’m Alpha so I can tell you what to do all the time.”
“I’m going to tell your dad you only want to be Alpha so you can get in my pants.”

The characters were the stars of this novel. From the protagonist to the love interest to the background characters, each character was individual and realistic with their own unique personality. Ox was a remarkable protagonist and I fell in love with him almost immediately. His inner monologue was equal parts touching and saddening. He dreamed of so much for his life, but he could not move past the last words his father ever said to him: that he was worth nothing. He was a very empathetic character and every reader will undoubtedly root for him the whole way through.

Right from the very beginning, I loved Joe Bennett. He started the novel as a scrawny little kid who wouldn’t stop talking even if his life depended on it, and developed into a capable young man. His characterisation was on point and there were many times he reverted into that sad, vulnerable young boy who experienced a traumatic event and couldn’t move past it. I adored his relationship with Ox and how, despite the many differences between them, they were stronger together. They were perfect for one another and I loved how Joe made Ox see a new, different side to himself: he wasn’t worth nothing like his daddy told him – he was loved by Joe and the other Bennetts and he was important.

So he pressed his forehead against mine and breathed me in and there was that sun, okay? That sun between us, that bond that burned and burned and burned because he’d given it to me. Because he’d chosen me. And I got to choose him back.

I was deeply invested in the history between the background characters Marcus and Gordo. When I found out they used to be in love – and were mated for a short time – I wanted a book about them immediately. Klune is actually delivering on this, though he is still writing it. A quick check on his website makes me think that his WIP Ravensong is potentially the Marcus/Gordo sequel (it makes sense if it is).

Klune’s language choices were quite simple – which only further tugged on my heart strings because the protagonist was this big, beefy man who had trouble expressing himself – which should make for an easy read, but doesn’t. The tone of the novel, expressed through Ox’s POV, was quite dark and the romance epically tragic and filled with angst. Sometimes, reading Wolfsong felt like wading through quicksand – it was hard and long and tiring, especially during the years Joe was away, but the action and romance scenes more than made up for the few long drawn-out chapters.

The plot was wonderfully unique and outstanding. Klune has taken a very popular, cliched type of fiction full of tropes, diverse couplings and confusing romance abbreviations that you need a dictionary to understand, and established his own distinct voice and story in an overcrowded and complicated category.

“You don’t get to decide what you’re worth because you obviously don’t know. You don’t get to decide that anymore because you have no fucking idea that you’re worth everything.”

Wolfsong was a touchingly beautiful story that will stay with me for a long time. The characters, the plot and the writing all came together to produce a dark yet hopeful tale of romance, murder, destiny, and magic.

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4.5 stars

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