I might've mentioned earlier to some of my friends that I was in a reading slump recently. Nothing worked. I didn't like anything I read, so eventually I got tired of it all and decided to go back to a story that was certain to bring me a reading bliss -- Alpha and Omega, a novella by Patricia Briggs and one of my favorite urban fantasy stories. I read it before, several times, and the pleasure of reading it has never faded. The story didn't disappoint me now. Even after this -- the -nth reread -- it felt as good and fresh as ever. Then I decided to continue the series and read Cry Wolf. It's my first reread after the novel first came out in 2008 and the first review -- I didn't review books back then.
I loved it. My reading slump is officially over. The story starts the next day after Alpha and Omega ended. There, the protagonists Charles and Anna first met. In this book, their relationship grows, as Anna finally comes to terms with being a werewolf.
Simultaneously, she grapples with her unfolding and not entirely welcome love for Charles. In theory, there shouldn't be anything in common between these two. Anna's compassion is a rare thing among the werewolves: she is an Omega, outside the rigid structure of dominants and submissives that characterizes any werewolf pack. Charles, on the other hand, is a dominant wolf, an assassin for the Marrok, his father and the ruler of all werewolves in North America. Ruthless and grim, he finds unexpected joy with Anna, and his need for her softness and light is as great as her need to feel safe and protected, the feelings he inspires in her.
Different as night and day, these two tiptoe tentatively around each other, trying to find their elusive connection, like any couple in love, and the readers delight in their antics. In an ideal world, they should've been permitted to find their equilibrium in peace, but Briggs is too good a writer to allow them such luxury. Instead, she throws her heroes into the middle of exploding danger, as a rogue werewolf appears in the Marrok's territory and starts mauling humans. Charles and Anna have no choice but to investigate, and their hunt for the rogue goes in parallel with their personal and sexual exploration.
There is an evil witch in the story too, and several supporting characters, some good some not, but all with their personal quirks and backstories. Characterization is one of this writer's fortes, and she makes each of her characters unique and memorable.
The action is quick and furious, without a moment respite for the heroes, and magic flows freely through the narrative, as smooth as the snow covering the mountains and just as treacherous. As Anna and Charles get farther from civilization, the risk to their safety spirals out of control, and the readers can't close the book until the last page.
Totally absorbing and featuring one of the most engaging female protagonists in the urban fantasy today, this book belongs among the best in the genre. Recommended.