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  • Writer's pictureKali Kuzma

Once There Were Wolves By Charlotte McConaghy: A Book Review

Hitting Close to Home

Here on the blog even though I do write stories about trips I've taken or mention books I like I haven't really gotten personal on the blog.

The main reason is I want to keep this space more about writing than about me(even though this is technically my author website as well).

From things I have mentioned in past posts or my About Kali page some people might have caught on that I love nature and working with animals. But one in particular... wolves.

One day I will do a whole post on it, but shortly after graduating college in 2014 I took an internship working with wolves, coyotes, foxes, and bison. It was an amazing experience I would live over and over again.

Well a few weeks ago I was meandering, as one does, through Barnes and Noble and felt very nostalgic as I kept seeing books related to my past adventures. Then I stumbled upon Once There Were Wolves in the newly release section.

The title stood bold against the simple cover image of a darkened and empty forest. Knowing the history of wolves I instantly grabbed the book flipping to the inside blurb. I read a few sentences and decided I needed to buy the book now.

Overview of Once There Were Wolves

Inti Flynn, an Australian biologist and conversationalist, is hated by the people of Scotland after reintroducing 14 wolves to a highland forests. These are struggles she has seen before as the experiences she faces parallel her and her twin sister, Auggie's, childhood. Inti thinks she has a grip on life, but when she is introduced to Duncan, the town's Chief of Police, her life gets twisted upside down when a local man goes missing. Is it the wolves or actual foul play?

The Cons of Once There Were Wolves

· The sister's relationship

From the first paragragh of the book we find out Inti has a twin sister named Auggie. Auggie is the stronger of the two when it comes to personality and dealing with people which means Inti follows her everywhere she goes while Auggie decides it's her job to protect Inti from anything that comes her way. Because of this, they go through life having to do everything together. This means still living together after Auggie marries and Inti gets a job in Alaska.

I'm not one for people having to rely on each other, and I'm also an only child so for me I see this behavior is overbearing and a little odd especially when they're in their late 30's. I felt their relationship was more of a romantic(even though not necessarily portrayed that way) than a sibling relationship should be. But like I said I'm an only child so I might not understand the sibling relationship as others might.

The Pros of Once There Were Wolves

· First Open Sentence

With writing people always say to have a good opening sentence to catch the readers eye. Whenever I crack open a book this is always the first thing I think of.

Once We Were Wolves did just that with this sentence "When we were eight, Dad cut me open from throat to stomach". From these words alone I could tell this novel was going to be filled with a dark plot I wouldn't be able to put down.

· Unique Characteristics

It seems in most books these days characters are described as lonely quirky people who are beautiful, but nobody seems to care about them until someone sees their beauty and realizes 'hey you are an interesting person'. Instead, in Once There Were Wolves we get strong voiced characters who say it like it is, and don't need beauty to capture people's attention.

One unique characteristic Inti contained was a very strong condition of mirror-touch synesthesia where she feels the sensation of touch when someone else is being touched. Because of this condition, we see the struggles she has to face when dealing with animals and people on a daily basis.

We also see other characters with problems such as anger management issues, alcoholism, or dementia which we don't often see being spoken about in other novels.

· Wolf Research

When purchasing this book I knew it was going to be a hit or miss when it came to properly stating facts about wolves. I have to say the author did a great job researching the behavior of wolves. About 98% of the knowledge found in this book is true making the storyline that much more enjoyable.

Even how the people of Scotland acted when it came to the release of the wolves represented a real truth to those situations based on their lack of knowledge on the subject.

· Several Twists

This book had so many twists and turns I couldn't believe it. Even though there were quite a handful they stayed true to the plot making everything seem so believable.

· Great Showing and Not telling

The entire book was written with show not tell. The description of places, people, or things were scattered throughout the story instead of large chunks. This left much to the imagination and even the smallest character seemed to be described in an appropriate manner.

· Short and Easy Read

The story is on the shorter side which is why it's great that every scene counts and pushes the story forward. Even though filled with behaviors and facts about wolves it is simple to read and follow along.

Overall Review Summary

I think this is probably the fastest I've ever read a book. I'm going to say it right now... this is the best book I've ever read and is now my favorite book of all time(sorry to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). This novel gets an automatic 5 out of 5 stars!

Each scene had a purpose and moved the story forward. There is a well established time frame in which the incidents in the book played out making the story believable and realistic.

Every character stands out on their own and you see their ups and downs making it impossible to have a favorite(even the bad guys).

The spread of knowledge of wolf behavior is incredulous and honestly implorable. Any animal behaviorist or conversationalist would be happy to read this book on top of the murder mystery it contains.

This story is a complete 180 compared to my last book review The Mourning Emporium which almost put me off reading. Thank goodness I read this book next otherwise my faith in reading may have dissipated.

If you are interested great reads check out my children's picture book Princess Gabriella and the Never-Ending Kiss. You can purchase it on Amazon, in eBook, format for only $9.99! Or get a physical copy at for $32.99!

If you love YA novels and are interested in finding out about more I suggest taking a look at my review for Midnight Sun, A Witch in Time, or The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue!

87 views2 comments


Oct 29, 2021

I enjoy reading and so I like getting book recommendations and reviews from others. Thanks for sharing!

Kali Kuzma
Kali Kuzma
Oct 30, 2021
Replying to

I hope you enjoyed this review!

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