Sons of the Wolf - Barbara Michaels

(No Series)

Ada and Harriet had never met anyone like Mr. Wolfson, the strangely magnetic, darkly funny man who was to be their new guardian. Who, confined to a wheelchair and flanked by two fierce dogs, both welcomed and intimidated the girls. And who had equally mysterious sons, Julian and Frances - one was as good-natured as the other was evil. But evil, as Harriet soon discovered, ran rampant through Abbey Manor and the surrounding moors. Especially in the moonlight...

Sons of the Wolf reigns as one of Michael's darker, more serious works. Devoid of typical humor, atmosphere is different than usual, as is the turnout. Written with a meek Victorian tone and set in the repressed ages, the heroine Harriet is much like other characters in the novels, only a little more watered down with speech. (I suppose Michaels did this to stay truer to the setting.) This novel lacks the sophistication in some of Michael's other works, suffering from a depressed tone

Suffering from a depressed tone, the malnourished plot lacks the sophistication of later works. Neither dreadfully horrible nor boring, characters do not hold the trademark charm of Michaels. What happens to them is of less relevance, and at times they even got on my nerves. The ending doesn't fit what I read, with the romance seeming stuffy, out of the blue, and unrealistic. Not to mention - why should there be a romance there at all?

The man she ended up being with wasn't admirable or appealing, and I would think Harriet would have shunned him from the start after some of his actions. He did redeem himself, but through most of the novel he came across as obnoxious, self-indulgent, and overbearing. Rather than having a happy ending, it was supposed to be conveyed as one, but instead left me with a suffocated feeling.

There is a definite gothic touch on the pages, complete with wolves, full moons, crumbling castles, and cynical caretakers. Because of the small number of suspects, it's not too difficult to point your finger in the right direction. The unveiling of the mystery was interesting, and I felt a strange fondness for one of the villains, despite his crazed actions. (Silly me!)

Michaels writing is still top-notch, even if that cozy relaxed feeling is lacking. Still, the novel boasts a readable story, and is hard to put down, even if the pacing is a little too slow. Harriet isn't the best character but she's still enjoyable, as is her sister (when she's not giggling). I did end up enjoying the ending with the grandmother's revelation, though, for that wasn't expected and made more sense. It's not a Michaels to turn away, but not the right place to sample her stuff either. A recommended read only if you're already a fan itching to finish the collection. This is only her second book under this name, after all, and every writer must stumble sometimes to find the right path.

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