Once There Were Wolves

Charlotte McConaghy. Flatiron, $27.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-24414-7
Australian author McConaghy (Migrations) returns with a vividly realized story of trauma and the attempted “rewilding” of the Scottish Highlands. Empathetic biologist Inti Flynn, raised in part in Sydney, Australia, and in part in the woods of British Columbia, is on a project site in Scotland with a group of biologists, where she works to introduce North American wolves into the Scottish ecosystem. She has brought her mute identical twin sister, Aggie; Inti knows the source of Aggie’s trauma, but the details are kept from the reader until late in the narrative. When Inti discovers the body of a man she suspects was abusive to his wife (he said she fell off of a horse; she looked like she was beaten up), and who might have been killed either by a wolf or another person, she impulsively buries the body and sets out to solve the mystery of the death, a process complicated by her sexual relationship with the local police chief, as they have a hard time trusting each other, and by an unexpected pregnancy. In a story full of subtle surprises, revolving around Aggie’s painful past as well as the source of the violence on the project site, McConaghy brings precise descriptions to the wolves—“subtly powerful, endlessly patient”—and to Inti’s borderline-feral way of existing in the world. The bleak landscape is gorgeously rendered and made tense by its human and animal inhabitants, each capable of killing. Throughout, McConaghy avoids melodrama by maintaining a cool matter-of-factness. This is a stunner. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/09/2021
Release date: 08/03/2021
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-250-80429-7
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