Author: Andrea Cremer
Publication: Philomel (October 19, 2010)
Description: Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything--including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?
My Thoughts: I'm not really sure what to say about this book. I enjoyed it but it took me almost a week to read. I think I read so slowly because of the emotional intensity of the story. Calla was an interesting character who was trying to balance duty with her own need for independence. Calla was conflicted. She has power and responsibility as an alpha but she lacked freedom of choice. She was often jealous of some of the other wolves in her pack because she thought that they had the freedom to love who they wanted to and form their own relationships.
She was raised as an alpha who guided the younger wolves in the Nightshade pack. But she was also fated to be the mate of the male alpha of the Bane pack. In the society that made her go from a superior position to a subordinate one. The example of her own mother's subservience to the Bane pack alpha showed her what her own future could hold. Also, the Nightshade pack and the Bane pack were rivals. She doesn't really know her fated mate very well. Ren has been a "play the field" type of alpha who has dated just about everyone in their school while Calla has been required to be pure and untouched.
When Calla saves Shay's life, she starts on a journey of discovery. She had never considered that there might be someone in her future except Ren. But Shay didn't know about her intended future and encourages her to get to know and fall in love with him. She has never had too much to do with humans as most of the human students at the school are afraid of the wolves. Shay isn't afraid of her and is constantly challenging her attitudes and beliefs. Shay is also very curious about the wolves and the Keepers. His research is teaching him that the history Calla knows is wrong.
Since we are seeing the story from Calla's point of view, we don't learn as much about the motives and personalities of the two boys - Ren and Shay - as I would like. We see Ren as a confident young alpha who is protecting his pack and seems to respect Calla. However, he is pushing Calla to disregard the whole purity thing and become intimate with him. We see Shay as a human who is new to the situation and is used to being on his own. His uncle drags him from place to place with him which keeps him from forming friendships and attachments. It also makes him a little single-minded about getting his way.
We do get a pretty good look at the society that Calla lives in. The wolves are the sworn soldiers of the Keepers and are given pretty much anything that they want. However, they are completely under control of the Keepers and the minions of the Keepers including the wraiths. They even refer to the Keepers as their masters. The glimpses of the Keepers indicate that there is something rotten there. The Keeper in charge of the Bane pack is abusing one of the young female werewolves in Ren's group. They use their magic and wraiths to control and punish unruly wolves.
Calla and Ren know that they have been fated from birth to mate and form a new pack which will combine the young wolves of both the Banes and the Nightshades. They didn't know that their master would be the son of the master of the Bane pack and ready to follow in his father's footsteps. Only this time his victim is one of the young male wolves.
Calla is forced to make changes and decisions that will affect her whole life because of the things she and Shay learn about the Keepers and their enemies the Searchers. In a sense this is a coming of age story as Calla goes from the blissful ignorance of childhood to the broader world view of an adult.
I recommend this book to readers who are fans of Twilight and werewolves. I think it would be better suited for older YAs because of some of the sexual references. The only actual intimate activities shown in the story are kissing and some petting but other things occur off-stage.
Did I mention the cliff-hanger ending?
I could smell his fear but was intrigued by the other, more alluring scents beneath it. Clover, rain, sun-warmed fields. I leaned toward him, taking in the shape of his lips, the light in his pale green eyes. He wasn't looking at me like I was a freak. His eyes were full of fear and wanting. I wondered what he could see in my eyes.