Siria's Reviews > A Companion to Wolves

A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette
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's review
Sep 21, 08

bookshelves: 21st-century, american-fiction, fantasy, queer-lit
Read in September, 2008

This is pretty much every slash fanfic cliché ever, all written into one cracktastic book, complete with telepathic wolves and gay Vikings. I think it's best enjoyed if you want to wallow in those tropes—the prose is competent, but not astounding, the characterisation not particularly engaging, and the world-building rather bland. I get that it was supposed to be a response to the companion-animal tropes and resultant gender issues that crop up in a lot of fantasy fiction; not having read much in that line, though, I was lacking most of that context, and was instead frustrated that modern Western conceptions of sexuality had been mapped onto an early medieval world with no thought given to how different societal needs might have changed thoughts about sexual relations/recognised social partnerships. They did hint at some interesting explorations of masculinities, but I thought the novel was too brief to sustain the framework of what they were attempting.

There were hints of things that I would like to have seen explored in much more depth—the worlds of the trolls and the svartalfr—but they were very much at the periphery of a rather stock faux-medieval world. The introduction didn't help; the authors stated that their use of 'Norse' words and names (and my god, were there ever a lot of names, and there are canonical name changes, which made it even more difficult) were an amalgam designed to create a period feel, and it showed.

Basically: if you want to read a book about buff gay Vikings in which psychic-wolves-made-them-do-it, this is the book for you. If not, I wouldn't really recommend it.
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