About the Book:
Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but Aggie, too, unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska.
Inti is not the woman she once was, either, changed by the harm she’s witnessed—inflicted by humans on both the wild and each other. Yet as the wolves surprise everyone by thriving, Inti begins to let her guard down, even opening herself up to the possibility of love. But when a farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept her wolves could be responsible, Inti makes a reckless decision to protect them. But if the wolves didn’t make the kill, then who did? And what will Inti do when the man she is falling for seems to be the main suspect?
Propulsive and spell-binding, Charlotte McConaghy’s Once There Were Wolves is the unforgettable story of a woman desperate to save the creatures she loves—if she isn’t consumed by a wild that was once her refuge.
“The forest has a beating heart we can’t see,” Dad told us once. They’re like us, a family. Stronger together. Nothing gets through this life alone.”
I had very high hopes for this book after ‘Migrations’, and the author lived up to all my expectations! This book is magical, gritty, tragic and raw. It’s also hard to categorize this story into one genre but if the synopsis grabs you, I highly recommend this one.
Inti is working to reintroduce wolves into a remote area of Scotland and meets with resistance from the locals. The author shines when writing about the natural world, and the environmental themes are beautifully presented. Inti has a special gift and can literally feel the pain of others, making her hypersensitive to her surroundings.
“Mirror-touch synesthesia. My brain re-creates the sensory experiences of living creatures, of all people and even sometimes animals; if I see it I feel it, and for just a moment I am them, we are one and their pain or pleasure is my own. It can seem like magic and for a long time I thought it was, but really it’s not so far removed from how other brains behave: the physiological response to witnessing someone’s pain is a cringe, a recoil, a wince.”
Inti lives with her twin sister Aggie who has suffered some trauma that rendered her speechless. Nonetheless they communicate through sign language. They are fiercely protective of each other. Added into the tension of the wolf reintroduction project are the townspeople who are violently opposed to the wolves living in the forests near their livestock and a murder where several people are suspects, including Inti and the tough police chief Duncan who Inti has been seeing. All of this is told against the backdrop of the wilds of Scotland and Alaska, where Inti and Aggie spent their early years with their father who believed in subsistence living.
I could not put this gorgeous and complicated book down once I started. The wolves and their packs got under my skin and I won’t soon forget their story. Highly recommend!
“It is easy to tell myself that what passes between them is only biology, nature, but then who said love does not exist in the nature of all things?”
(Thank you to the publisher for providing an advance copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review.)