"Promise of the Wolves"
(Reviewed by Ann Wilkes JAN 18, 2009)
In a time when humans have just learned to tame fire, fashion tools and build homes, another complex society looks on. The wolves of this time are drawn to the humans that they are forbidden to associate with. In Promise of the Wolves, Dorothy Hearst gives us Kaala, a wolf that should have been killed by her own pack because her father was from another pack. She bears a crescent mark on her neck that may mean she is the wolf that will lead the pack to greatness – or to destruction.
Hearst brings such intricacies to the wolf pack culture that you feel you are truly meeting another, long forgotten intelligent society. They have rivalries, politics, laws and moral codes. They are not driven only by instincts but led by their elders and pack leaders in the oral traditions handed down from their ancestors.
The leader of her pack, Ruuqo, hates Kaala and refuses to accept her into the pack. He allows her to live among them, but continually shows his disdain for her. When she is old enough, he doesn't allow her to participate in the hunts.
Kaala knows she's different. The Great Wolves, who lord over the wolves have spared her in case she is "the one." After a chance meeting with humans, Kaala knows that her difference is inextricably tied to the humans. She feels a burning desire to go to them. One day, she sees a human girl drowning in the river. She and her friend save the human cub and deliver her back to her people. This act of mercy bonds her to the teenaged girl for as long as Kaala's heart beats in her chest. She lives a double life, stealing off to her girl whenever she can. They hunt together as though they have always done so.
Though this is a story of "talking" wolves, it is a masterful tale of intrigue, loneliness, conflict, adventure, familial love and sorrow. I recommend this first book of The Wolf Chronicles as an excellent "feel good" novel. It's clear Hearst did her research and extrapolated in such a way that she avoided simply anthropomorphizing the wolves. They are in a class all their own and wildly entertaining.
- Amazon readers rating: from 71 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from Promise of the Wolves at author's website
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
The Wolf Chronicles:
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- Official website for Dorothy Hearst
- PopMatters interview with Dorothy Hearst
- The Onion A.V. Club review of Promise of the Wolves
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About the Author:
Dorothy Hearst was born in 1966. She majored in English Literature at University California at Berkeley. She went to New York City a couple years after graduating, was unsuccessful in acting and then found a job in publishing. Before quitting to write full time, she was an acquisitions editor at Jossey-Bass, where she published books for nonprofit, public, and social change leaders.
After seven years in New York City and nine years as a San Franciscan, Dorothy now lives in Berkeley, California.