Fairytale with a darker edge
I love fairytales. This one was darker and more sensual than I prefer. It is a clean romance despite several indelicate observations.
Cry Wolf is quite similar to Disney's animated version of Beauty and the Beast with much of the main characters and some of the plot. Isabelle lives with her old father and loves books. Jean is a scarier version of Gaston. He's not only narcissistic, he feels 'off' like there is something not honest about the front he puts up. He changed a lot after returning from serving as a soldier though this trait may have just been hidden well before. I like that Isabelle had the sense to fear him.
Since her father is the best wolf hunter, he goes on a hunt with Jean and the men of the village for a wolf-like beast that is now ravaging the countryside. Isabelle is told after the hunt that her father was killed by a wolf.
The book follows an interesting format with Isabelle's story interspersed with short internal dialogue from 'The Beast'. Is the Beast the fanged man who rescues Isabelle from another wolf attack after her father's death or is it an unassociated individual?
Isabelle's leg was injured when she was attacked. Howl, her rescuer, takes her to his home in a former mansion to help her heal. Surprisingly, he lives with a pack of wolves.
Howl is the biggest difference from the Disney film. He is very energetic and cheerful like a fun puppy instead of a ferocious beast. His eagerness to please and lack of sophistication reminded me of a charming five year old.
It felt like Isabelle and Howl were best friends which is important for a lasting marriage. I didn't see the usual signs of falling in love though. Howl was obviously attracted to Isabelle's womanly charms but I'm not sure what he liked about her as a person since the story of their relationship was told from Isabelle's perspective. Their romance might have felt more relatable to me if the characters showed more emotions. I loved that Howl respected Isabelle and honored her wishes.
I admired the way the author did not overuse narration to fill in information.
This could be a great read for someone who enjoys fairytales with a darker edge. Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen is a darker steampunk retelling of the same fairytale; the mood of that book reminded me of the feeling I got while reading Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, Brahm Stoker's Dracula, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Readers who loved that tale may enjoy Cry Wolf too!
I received a free copy of this book. All opinions are completely my own.