Jan. 24th, 2017

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I had good reason to be reminded of the Werewolf Marines series recently, and soon after that reread Laura's Wolf for two reasons.  One: there is no series title more perfectly designed to appeal to my id than "Werewolf Marines," because I love stories of loyalty and stories of pack-bonding.  Two: Laura's Wolf is great comfort reading with which to usher in a year in which we'll all be in sore need of comfort reading.

"Comfort reading" can sound like a promise that a book will be nothing but coziness, but Laura's Wolf isn't that, and in fact that's never been what I look for in comfort reading.  Rather than being a novel where nothing bad ever happens and no shadows ever fall across the face of perfect, blissed-out happiness, this is a novel where trauma lingers, happiness is a matter of day-by-day work and little victories, and there is damage that can't be fully repaired.  But it's a fundamentally hopeful and warm book, not despite those qualities but because of them.  It doesn't assume that things are easy or effortless--and those "things" can include getting over guilt, adjusting to a radically different kind of life, working out a relationship, and defeating an abusive alpha werewolf--but it extends empathy towards its characters and has faith in their ability to work towards recovery.

Also, and I think I mentioned this, it has werewolves.  In the perennial "are you a vampire person or a werewolf person?" survey that all humanity is required to answer, I am, always and forever, a werewolf person.  Werewolves run hot, they're emotional and messy; werewolves are all about community, friendship, and family dynamics; werewolves are, alternately, puppy piles and ripped-out throats.  I'm always looking for that particular combination of openness and complex interpersonal loyalty, and Laura's Wolf is my favorite way to scratch that itch.  It doesn't just have the strong central romance between Laura and Roy (though their romance is adorable and convincing, especially as they realize their mutual need for adrenaline rushes and heroism, and as they're able to take care of each other and, gradually, their acquired pack), it also has, well, everything.  There's Roy's friendship with DJ and his new connection to DJ's extended (and wolfish) family, and how that links him not only to the Marine but also to a thriving werewolf culture with its own mores (scent names!); there's Laura's loving but distant connection to her dad and the heartbreaking story of the "con" she ran on family she would have loved to have connected with honestly; there's the pack Laura and Roy eventually wrest out of a terrible situation, with their own dynamics and their own traumas.  There is pack sense and there are scent names and people all get together to have breakfast.

Laura's Wolf is a very fannish novel that is very conducive to fannishness, and if the universe were a better and more just place, it would at least be a miniseries, because it really does build a situation in which any number of stories could be told--and that's even before you get to the excellent "werewolf PI" set-up.  Both Laura and Roy have strong drives--they're both the kind of people who create plot by going out and doing things--and they inhabit a coherent and tantalizing world.  It's the pattern of trauma and recovery that gives it all a simple but elegant structure--and a very appealingly hurt/comforty one--but you can also see how new plots could be put in place for new kinds of stories to be told.  (And of course, it's the first book in a series, so new stories do get told.)  That's also part of what makes it comfort reading for me--there's a lovely openness to it, and plenty of room for my imagination.

But what I come back to, repeatedly, is the sense that I drew the post title quote from: the guarantee (that we know is false) that things aren't over.  That the pain isn't over, so comfort and work are still needed; that hope isn't over, so you have something to hold onto; and that your life isn't over, so your actions and choices still matter.  That's the kind of comfort I think we all need right now.  And also werewolves.


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