Author: TJ Klune
Narrator: Kirt Graves
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 18 hours and 40 minutes
Category: Paranormal, Shifters
At a Glance: I hope there are many more installments that will feature other characters from this stunning novel, as well as give us an update on Joe and Ox. This story will stay with me for a very long time!
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.
It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.
Review: In a nutshell (which, given this was a 400 page novel, barely does this story justice) Wolfsong by TJ Klune is the tale of two young men—one a mere boy, who discovers how to live and trust again when he meets the young man who lives down the road—Ox. Joe is barely recovering from a horrible abduction that has left him silent and emotionally withdrawn, until he meets the sixteen-year old Ox. Ox is a gentle giant—hesitant, always mindful of the hateful lies his father told him about his low worth and lack of brains. But nothing could be further from the truth about Ox, and when these two meet, something snaps into place for both of them—something that will grow and evolve slowly over the next fifteen years this novel covers, and lead Ox to discovering new things about his sexuality, his place in life and his own worth.
Together, he and Joe will conquer demons and grow inseparably close—tethered, mated—and when Ox discovers that his neighbors are much more than a close-knit family, are indeed a wolf pack whose very existence is at threat, he determines he will do everything possible to defend them. But Joe does the unthinkable and pushes Ox aside, thinking it is for his own safety. Instead, it brings out in Ox a remarkable gift, and when Joe returns, it is to a stronger, more settled Ox—a man who has found his footing and his own very human pack.
While this story was a definite five stars for me, the audio did not always live up to the emotional punch the text delivered. In particular, I felt the character of Joe, at a young age, was often voiced in a much too breathy and effeminate voice. I understood the need for the narrator to give the ten-year old version of Joe both a tentative and soft voicing, but unfortunately, that meant that the child-like wonder and enthusiasm that was so apparent in the story got lost. Joe became simply a more feminine voice, losing the speed of delivery that was inherent in the writer’s dialogue, and the volume I know most young boys achieve when they are excited, and Joe is most definitely excited every time he sees Ox.
As Joe ages, I felt annoyed that the same high pitched, breathy voice remained, which I felt diminished the intensity of Joe’s need for Ox—his tether, his mate. Even at a young age, Joe recognizes that Ox is meant for him, and it really isn’t until Joe reaches maturity that I felt the voicing finally gave us that idea. Ox, on the other hand, was perhaps nearly perfect. The slow and steady drawl used for his character, the measured pace and tone, really imparted that Ox was not the slow-witted young man his father so scathingly accused him of being, but instead, was a thoughtful and tender boy who cared deeply for those around him. The confusion Ox feels about his changing sexuality and his draw to Joe is clearly presented in the hesitant voicing and the soft cadence of his tone. Here is where, in my opinion, the narration begins to shine.
If Ox is done well, then it is the evil Richard Collins that was just brilliant. Gravel voiced, with a menacing pitch and an almost oily tone, one felt the hate and insanity roll off this character’s tongue every time narrator Kirt Graves gave him life. There was such incredible precision given to creating the pervasive gloom and horror this character represented. It is so easy to slip into a laughable caricature, like a voice when inhabiting a psychotic character such as Collins, but Graves deftly avoids any semblance of this type of cliche, and instead, made Richard a living breathing monster all with the inflection and gravity of his tone.
This novel was most definitely a huge challenge due to both the breadth of the time span (fifteen years) and the number and variety of characters. Yet, in the end, I feel the narrator, a new voice in the audio arena, really gave this book many amazing moments and carried it handily to its glorious conclusion. I would definitely look for more work by Kirt Graves, for I feel as he grows in his craft he will become a sought-after voice in the audio world. As for the story itself, Klune scores big once again, and I hope there are many more installments that will feature other characters from this stunning novel, as well as give us an update on Joe and Ox. This story will stay with me for a very long time!
You can buy Wolfsong here: