Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.
It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.
Paranormal-Shifter, M/M, LGBT+
400 e-book pages
Wolfsong (?), book 1
June 21-24, 2016
Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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I’m pretty sure Wolfsong is the best Paranormal/Shifter book I’ve ever read.
I’m also pretty sure I have a huge-ass book hangover. TJ’s books usually do that to me.
Admittedly, I don’t read a whole lot of Paranormal — even fewer Shifter. BUT, I’m certain I’ve read enough to know a damn fine one when I’ve read it.
And y’all…this was phenomenal. Out of the gate from the very first words — meaning creative chapter headings — all the way to The End. Everything about it was epic and awesome.
I loved how every bit of the world-building happened through the eyes of Ox starting when he was just a kid when his world was small. We learn every detail of this fantastical setting as he did when he did, with the only benefit of prior knowledge from the blurb and speculation to maybe (only sometimes) be half a step ahead. We weren’t bogged down with an info dump of the rules and how it all works, it was organic and grew from the world we all know, or can sort of relate, into a believable mystical realm.
The story of Ox and Joe is epic. It’s a bond that started at first sight, during adolescence. Joe was ten, Ox sixteen. It grows and grows and grows and grows from something so pure and innocent into the can’t-live-without-you kind of love and goes through all sorts of trials and tribulations. But even from the onset, it was huge. A big thing that was life altering. The connection of a lifetime. Long before Ox knew of the existence of werewolves, there was this bond between them. It strengthened, it was tested time and again.
The story of Ox and Joe is a rollercoaster of emotions from heartache, heartbreak, loss, joy, laughter, anger, and fear. It’s chock full of friendship — a growing family of friends and family bound by blood. It’s also realizing self-worth and purpose. Just…all the things. I cried, dammit. Six times, maybe seven. Fine…eight. But I laughed a lot too. And I was riveted.
Wolfsong put me through the wringer, took a lot out of me. But, it gave me back so much more.
TJ’s writing is truly something special. He carves words into shapes, gives them a heartbeat and brings them to life on the page. There are places where he uses inspired repetition, italics, line breaks, short sentences, no punctuation and makes poetry with the rhythm and conviction of an anthem. Essentially, he makes words his bitch. And it works. It works to amp up whatever emotion he wants us to have in the moment and really see everything through the eyes, the mind, and the heart of the narrator.
Those things, those writing tricks? Not everyone can pull that off. That’s artistry at its finest when not overdone, embedded in a compelling story, surrounded by other strong, fantastic prose with characters who deliver.
I’m not saying much new here…I’ve waxed on to crazed fan-girl proportions a few times with my awe of TJ’s writing since the first book of his I read. But, it bears repeating. It also bears mentioning that with each new book it becomes more seasoned, more nuanced. And I love that TJ is taking on genres beyond Contemporary, spreading his wings, trying new things. So far, he’s gotten it right every time. Every. Single. Time.
And here’s something. I read this while house/dog-sitting a pack of schnauzers. Three of them. Far removed from their wolfy ancestry, obviously. But…it was weird. So weird. Reading a book about wolves then glancing up to see these schnauzers being so…packish and them ingratiating (humoring) me as their temporary Alpha. The younger male is attempting to raise his position in the doggy hierarchy over the older male . The female is incredibly sweet but tends to get pushed aside in the other’s demands for attention. Then they’re especially weird when they all lay in a circle, like spokes on a wheel, and clean each other’s ears. Gross. Weird. Pack. But they dog-pile on me, follow my every step, nuzzle my neck, and trust that I’ll keep them safe and fed. My pack…at least for a few days.
This review also posted on GoodReads.