6 August 2022

Review: ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES, Charlotte McConaghy

  • This edition made available via my local library through Libby
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin eBooks (3 August 2021)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 263 pages
  • Book club questions
    Synopsis (publisher)

    From the author of the international bestseller Migrations comes a pulse-pounding new novel set in the wild Scottish Highlands

    Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team tasked with reintroducing fourteen grey wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but a broken Aggie, too. However, Inti is not the woman she once was, and may be in need of rewilding herself.

    Despite fierce opposition from the locals, Inti's wolves surprise everyone by thriving, and she begins to let her guard down, even opening up to the possibility of love. But when a local farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept her wolves could be responsible, she makes a reckless decision to protect them, testing every instinct she has.

    But if her wolves didn't make the kill, then who did? And what will she do when the man she's been seeing becomes the main suspect?

    Propulsive and spellbinding, Once There Were Wolves is the unforgettable tale of a woman desperate to save the creatures she loves. Part thriller, part redemptive love story, Charlotte McConaghy's profoundly affecting novel will stay with you forever. 

    My Take

    In places where there were once trees, the forests are gone. The world has lost countless species of wildlife, largely in our lifetimes. In places where there were once wolves, there are now none. In hunting down or chopping one down, the world's population has often destroyed the entire ecosystem that it was part of. Re-wilding projects believe that if you can re-instate one part of the system, sometimes the main predator, then you stand a chance of restoring the ecosystem.

    But often the land was cleared, or the predators killed in order to grow another economic enterprise. In Scotland for example the land was cleared and the wolves hunted down to make way for sheep. But destroying that ecosystem has often turned the land barren. The promise is that if we can re-introduce wolves then other things will be restored and nature's balance will be restored.

    But those whose livelihood depends on the sheep fear the re-introduction of wolves, believing that they will not only attack the sheep but also humans.

    I found the scale of this novel breath taking. Only part of it was concerned crime fiction, with murder, and violence. Much of it was about how humans treat each other. The characters were very real and the scenarios credible. Highly recommended.

    My rating: 4.7

    About the author

    Charlotte McConaghy is the author of the international bestseller Migrations, a TIME Magazine Best Book of the Year and the Amazon.com Best Fiction Book of the Year for 2020, which is being translated into over twenty languages. She has both a Graduate Degree in Screenwriting and a Masters Degree in Screen Arts, and lives in Sydney, Australia. Her forthcoming novel Once There Were Wolves will be published by Flatiron Books in August 2021 in the US and around the world.

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