Title: This is Not a Werewolf Story
Author: Sandra Evans
Raul doesn’t like to talk too much. Not that there’s much he could talk about, even if he wanted to. During the week he lives at a boarding school for kids who have troubled home lives, and during the weekends, he goes deep into the mystery of White Deer Woods, which surrounds the school. When Vincent comes, Raul cautiously hopes he’s made his first real friend. But a cougar lurks in the woods, and Raul may not be able to hold all the parts of his life together anymore.
I really liked this. Raul’s personality shines through from the start: a thinker, who has a hard time saying what’s going on in his head. He also realizes a lot of what he thinks probably isn’t acceptable to say, like his mental commentary on the types of books English teachers think are good reading and how depressing they all are. In some ways his reticence goes deeper than a mere dislike of talking. He’s learned words are flimsy, easily broken things, and that the woods needs no words to communicate.
I liked the way the magic weaves so subtly through the story. Raul can’t think of himself as a werewolf, because he’s read about werewolves and what kind of monster they are. Instead, the power is as much a part of him as his thought life, though he tries to keep woods things for the woods. I liked the twists with light, and the various pieces that need to be in place for everything to work. The war he has against the cougar works on multiple fronts. Even when he starts to piece things together, there’s enough mystery unfolding to keep him off-balance.
And the end was perfect.
The style is more literary, so even though some exciting moments happen, it can feel slower-paced. It works well in the context, though, as Raul’s not trying to have adventures but to live out his life. The only area where I felt the book stumbled a little is that Raul speaks a fair amount even at the beginning, so it’s left to the other character’s reactions to showcase that this is unusual for him.
All in all, this is a wonderful tale (and has a happy ending!). It wraps up pretty much everything, but I wouldn’t be averse to a sequel to see how Raul’s getting along later in life (and if Vincent ever does muster the courage to face the woods himself). I rate this book Recommended.