ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES by Charlotte McConaghy

ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES is a powerful story of anger, fear, and violence; healing, trust, and love. Unlike anything I’ve ever read, it weaves together the brutality of humans, the mystery of wolves, and the raw beauty of the natural world. Underneath runs a gentle thread about the way families and wolf packs communicate with each other, and there are many beautiful references to the language of trees.

When Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with a team assigned to reintroduce 14 gray wolves to a remnant of the ancient Caledonian Forest, her past is a mystery. Readers know only that she’s traveled from Alaska with her twin sister, Aggie, and both have been shattered by a shared trauma. Maybe irretrievably.

Aggie, the once feisty sister, has retreated into herself and no longer speaks; Inti, the gentle biologist more at home with trees than people, is battling a rage she doesn’t know how to contain. Inti has an unusual gift that is also her curse: a neurological condition called mirror-touch synesthesia. At times overwhelmed by sensory information, she experiences the physical pain of others, whether in humans or creatures.

Her answer is to retreat into her work and the care of her sister, and avoid people. Once they settle in the Highlands, however, Inti is forced to interact with the local community—in defense of the wolves and through an unwanted connection with another damaged soul: the police chief.

The reintroduction of the wolves is an environmental attempt to rejuvenate the forest, since the wolves will feed on herbivores who prevent the growth of saplings. But the project generates increased animosity from local farmers. They see only predators that threaten their sheep. When a local farmer is murdered, and the wolves are blamed, tension explodes.

Inti knows the real monsters are human and will do anything to protect the wolves. But if they didn’t kill the farmer, who did?

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