Grace and Sam have been able to spend some time as humans together, but that time has always come with an expiration date. Now, even though Sam seems to have been “cured” of shifting into wolf form, Grace is a wolf, and they’re right back to the same problems they faced at the beginning of their story. And now, in addition to those obstacles, they’re also facing the threat of death: local hunters, supported by politicians, are moving ever closer to acting on their plan to permanently eliminate the entire pack.
Sam is trying to figure out how to deal with the situation, as is Cole, who is experimenting on himself to find out how to force shifting to happen one direction or the other. Cole, as always, is struggling with his own demons, but his will to make a difference is pressing him forward. In the meantime, Sam is trying to capture every minute he can with Grace when she is human, and the two are hoping to find a way to save the wolves.
The stories of Sam and Grace mingle nicely with the stories of Cole and Isabel, who cares for Cole and wants to help the wolves but has her own fears and personal issues. Although the series started as a love story between Sam and Grace, it evolved nicely to include the complex love story between Cole and Isabel as well. Maggie Stiefvater does a wonderful job layering the stories and relationships and making the characters real and multidimensional. We get more on Cole’s background and on Sam’s relationship with his wolf pack father, Beck, and the details are never cut-and-dried, much as in real life.
As with the previous books, the writing style is lovely and poetic, and the setting is well portrayed. The plot, the characters and interrelationships are well written and don’t just adhere to a simple formula. My only real beef with the series has nothing to do with the writing: each of the books has been set in colored typeface rather than the standard black: this one is maroon, matching the cover colors. It may seem like a minor detail, but it still made me annoyed — it’s printing 101 that the typeface should never, ever be a color other than black; it’s distracting and harder to read. If the designers could get on the ball, the books would be nearly perfect.
Rated: Mild, for some mild language, mild sexual references and some blood and violence. It should also be noted that these are all young people in their late teens who have little consistent, positive parental influence and are largely on their own.