Publication Date: August 18, 2012
In Year of the Wolf by Heather Heffner, Citalli Alvarez moved to Seoul, South Korea she thought she’d left her old life and old pain behind. A mysterious illness took her older sister. Now that dark evil is consuming her younger sister, Citalli knows that she cannot just stand by and watch her waste away. How far will she go to save the ones she loves?
The author Heather Heffner provided me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
The cover (pictured above) is amazing for this novel, as it conveys the fierce spirit that Citalli possesses. Heffner builds an extremely strong and powerful character while maintaining a softness that would seem illogical in the face of the life she’s been forced to lead by environmental elements. This is a character who purposely gets lost on the streets of Seoul the first day she’s there. Heffner poses this character to face incredible odds and imbues the reader with the sense of confidence in that she may not succeed, but she will certainly try all she can. The connection that the author builds between Citalli and her sister Raina is poignant. Raina has been an outcast of sorts in the family as she’s the product of an affair. The sisters adore each other, and as we get to know the duo, we know that nothing will stop Citalli when it comes to the well-being of her sister.
The Korean legends as passed on to Citalli and intertwined with the story are fascinating and set the story above those novels that are similar. An aura of mystique and danger is intertwined with the idea that these other-worldly happenings and the sickness that Marisol and now Raina experienced are commonplace in their society. It’s almost viewed as a punishment for nebulous wrongs. When you have a terrible bad invading your culture, you find what can be done to prevent that bad from spreading. Year of the Wolf is a very relatable tale in the sense that wrongs happen, and the way to stop them from happening is seeking the source and destroying it — if the source can be destroyed.
I had only a few issues with the work presented in Year of the Wolf. Heffner’s point-of-view transitions left something to be desired. The shift between Citalli and Raina was jarring in such a way that I had to go back and read a few pages to catch on to what had just happened. I also thought, and this may sound crazy, that Raina was simply too nice. She was the fairy tale princess of the story in a lot of places. The girl has been through a great deal and has clearly been treated cruelly by other members of her family for much of her young life as her existence was a result of their mother’s infidelity. In the end, her sweetness didn’t matter, but I would have understood had she been an angrier character and had Citalli still loved her despite birds not landing in her hair and helping her clean toilets (that didn’t happen in the story, just setting the visual picture).
While urban fantasy isn’t generally a genre to which this reader would gravitate, I enjoyed Year of the Wolf. Heffner’s first novel is engrossing, and I’m sure, her writing has only gotten better.
If you like fantasy with a strong real-world base, read an excerpt and buy Year of the Wolf by Heather Heffner on