Once There Were WolvesOnce There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy
Published by Flatiron Books on August 3, 2021
Pages: 272
View Title on Goodreads
Bantering Books Rating: four-stars

From the author of the beloved national bestseller Migrations, a pulse-pounding new novel set in the wild Scottish Highlands.
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 prime 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.

Bantering Books Review

Migrations is a tough act to follow. Especially in my eyes, what with it being the book I most treasure.

But I am happy to report that Charlotte McConaghy’s latest novel, Once There Were Wolves, does not disappoint.

Delete that. Yes, it does.

No, it doesn’t.
Yes, it does.
No, it doesn’t.
Yes, it does.
No, it –

Clearly, I’m conflicted. Because Wolves truly is another gorgeously written, complex work of literary fiction. Not only that, but, like Migrations, it’s also an enthralling, page-turning mystery, an achingly beautiful love story, and a heartfelt ode to our natural world.

This time around, McConaghy turns her attention to wolves and to Inti Flynn. Inti and her twin sister, Aggie, have recently arrived in the Scottish Highlands so that Inti can lead a team of biologists tasked with the reintroduction of 14 gray wolves. Scotland’s ecosystem is in crisis, and she hopes the wolves’ return will allow the land to organically rewild and prosper. But when a farmer is found dead and blame is placed upon the wolves, Inti must decide the lengths she will go to protect them.

Much like her wolves, Inti is an unforgettable force of nature. She is a haunted, troubled woman, and an angry fire burns within her, kindled by her traumatic past. To add to her interest, she possesses a neurological condition called mirror-touch synesthesia, meaning her brain recreates the sensory experience of others. Simply put, she feels what she sees.

Just as I felt all that I saw in Wolves.

I don’t know what it is about McConaghy’s writing, but she makes me feel. Every tear of Inti’s. Her pain, her anger, her fear, her love. The cold wind of the Highlands. The coarseness of the wolves’ coats. Very few writers affect me in this way.

So, why the disappointment?

The ending. It veers a little too close to thriller territory, and it’s shaded in unbelievability and melodrama. It doesn’t entirely suit the story.

But it’s no matter. I still loved Once There Were Wolves, and I will still read anything and everything McConaghy writes.

Her words are a gift.