Rhiannon Held,
(Tor, 2012)

For werewolves, for whom silver means pain or death, an injection of silver nitrate beneath the skin is an unimaginable torture.

That's the condition of the strange werewolf Andrew Dare, enforcer of the Roanoke pack, finds wandering his territory. She lacks her memory, a name and possibly her sanity, and she has lost the ability to shift into wolf form, possibly for good. For now, she goes by Silver, a rueful admission of her sad condition, and she apparently talks with Death, who is her constant companion.

Ordered by his pack leader to cut her loose, Dare instead makes contact with other North American packs to track down her identity and discover who was responsible for torturing her -- if for no other reason than to prevent other weres from suffering a similar fate. Soon, he learns that a great deal more than one young woman's suffering is at stake.

Dare, too, has a past that will come into play. I don't want to ruin the suspense, but let's just say he isn't very popular among European shifters.

First-time author Rhiannon Held makes her debut with Silver, and it's a solid entry into the growing field of contemporary werewolf fantasy. It doesn't break new ground, but it's an entertaining read that held my interest to the end. Our two protagonists are interesting folks, and it's fun to learn their stories as the novel progresses. Held juggles their narratives deftly, and she peoples Dare's world with secondary characters within an intriguing social structure that will provide plenty of material for future tales.

That said, a few character choices and plot developments felt predictable, and the conclusion felt both abrupt and a little unsatisfying. The "big bad" of the story came out of nowhere and, once there, failed to live up to the sense of impending menace that Held had worked so carefully to build. The resolution, while not disappointing, was still a bit underwhelming.

All told, there are more positive things to say about Silver than negative, so I hope the author builds on her strengths for the inevitable second and third books in the series.

book review by
Tom Knapp

14 July 2012

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