Shadow Of The Wolf
by Robyn Wren, fantasy (2007)
The Wild Rose Press, $5.00, ISBN N/A

Robyn Wren's Shadow Of The Wolf often feels more like a young adult novel rather than a romance story for adults because words like "purity" and "sadness" are bandied around freely, giving the story a simplistic feel. Surely there are better and more descriptive ways that can be used to describe a character's emotions other than to merely state that so-and-so is "happy" or "sad"? The heroine Saleene often discovers magical powers that she doesn't know she has at the most convenient moments. She also talks aloud to herself in a transparent attempt to fill the reader in with details. As a result, this book isn't the most well-crafted one in terms of technique and style.

Set in a sword-and-sorcery type world where a demon is on the loose, Saleene is this sorceress on a solo mission to "restore the balance" and "reset the circle of life". Accompanied only by a wolf, her travels see her bumping into the warrior Dartian Delaru and his men. As they travel together, Saleene and Dartian are attracted to each other even as they attract trouble like nobody's business.

The writing in this story can be too overwrought.

The sound of his breath had ceased and seemed to reverberate throughout the lands as the animals in the forest carried the song of his death away from Dartian and on to his people. From the distance a cry from a flock of ravens had signaled the acknowledgment of the fallen warrior.

I'm surprised that it doesn't start raining there and then as wolves emerge from the woods to howl at how sad the whole thing is. What's a "song of his death" anyway? Is it like in those Bollywood movies where a tragically injured heroine launches into a ten-minute song before she expires in the hero's arms? The problem with Ms Wren's prose is that she often goes overboard in her flowery prose yet at the same time she uses words that are too simplistic to the point of banality like "pure", "happy", and "sad". The result is an awkward mix of arch and too-flowery prose with unimaginatively simple words, as if while writing this story Ms Wren allows herself to only use the thesaurus three days a week.

Shadow Of The Wolf is a simple story that is yet pretty interesting. I find myself reading this story from start to finish in one sitting. Perhaps with time and experience, Ms Wren will be able to rein in the excesses of her writing. For now, Shadow Of The Wolf is a very unpolished story with neither the originality nor polished prose to make it stand out as a book to read. The pacing, however, is fine and the story, for all its fault, remains a pleasantly readable one. Simply put, this is a very unpolished effort by an author who could evolve to become a better writer some time in the future.

Rating: 69

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