Silver by Rhiannon Held is a werewolf novel with a difference, as there is barely any human interaction throughout the book. It is purely about the wolf packs and the threat that may be hunting them, with their foe making a vicious torture method out of silver.
The book begins with main character Andrew Dare on the hunt in the woods for a mysterious lone wolf whose scent he has detected. His role is that of an enforcer, whose job it is to protect the packs from threats and who I could best describe as pack police. At first he is unsure if this lone wolf is a threat, but it is his job to hunt it down and interrogate it or – if worst comes to worst – dispose of it.
At the end of the scent trail he finds Silver, a female wolf who has no recollection of her past, her name or how she ended up in the territory of the Roanoke pack. Her hair is bright white, an unusual trait for a younger wolf, and one of her arms is close to paralysed. It also becomes apparent that her mental state might be in question, as she claims that Death speaks to her, using the voices of the dead, and that the Lady’s light no longer touches her. The Lady is the kind of goddess the wolves believe in, and Silver feels separated from her as she can no longer shift into her wolf self.
Had she been injected with silver in a liquid form, like silver nitrate? Was there still silver in her blood? That would explain why touching the welts had burned him. His stomach clenched as nausea rose.
Andrew feels compelled to protect her, at least until he finds out which pack she came from, and so endeavours to find out any information he can from the neighbouring packs. He becomes more attached to her when closer examination of her paralysed arm reveals that she has been injected with silver straight into her veins. Silver is the wolves’ weakness, with the slightest contact making them unable to shift into their wolf forms. It is also not used as a torture weapon out of respect between the North American packs, instead being acknowledged as a European weapon.
Knowing the torment that Silver has been put through, Andrew is desperate to catch the perpetrator that did this to her, no matter the cost. However, neighbouring packs are not so keen to help him considering his history with Europe, as he is known in some circles as the Butcher of Barcelona, earning him an untrustworthy reputation. Will he be able to find the information he needs to catch Silver’s adversary before he strikes again?
I really liked Andrew as a main character, as he was a haunted soul from the beginning, with his past demons defining who he is in the present. It is some time before we discover the truth of his life in Europe, all we really know is that it involves his wife and child, who are no longer with him. He is a strong wolf who could obviously handle the task of being an alpha but refuses to take up that power, desperate to protect rather than kill. I liked how his attachment to Silver developed and thought that his protection of her was justified, even if he did still believe that she was a little insane.
As for Silver, her character really develops as the book continues, as we hardly know anything about her when she is first introduced, except that she has undergone some deep emotional trauma. As this trauma is revealed we can feel more empathy for her, and the author also gives us an insight into her insanity by showing us her relationship with Death. It also makes the reader question whether Death is real or in Silver’s head, and whether she really is insane.
The plot felt a little slow for me at times, as their journeys to the other wolf packs seemed a little longer than necessary, as they didn’t really gain that much information from each one. I also didn’t like how the eventual villain came to them rather than them seeking him out. It felt like they hadn’t done any work to catch him or discover his true identity until he appeared himself. However, for a debut novel it was a good read and I did enjoy Held’s writing. I felt that the opening chapter was a little confusing as it seemed to shift between Andrew and Silver’s perspectives before the characters had been introduced, but reading past this the book does get better. There were still some unanswered questions about the past of both characters, but I liked how Rhiannon Held concluded her debut novel.
I really enjoyed this book as it didn’t get too bogged down with defining its own variation of werewolves, but slowly revealed information as it went on, making the characters seem more natural. I liked the main character’s internal struggles as he tries to cope with his past whilst protecting Silver. There could have been more information on Silver’s monster, but I liked the slow build-up to the final conflict.
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