Assoc. Arts & Culture Editor
When most people think of books or films about werewolves, images of action-packed violence and teen romance often come to mind. However, “Silver,” the debut novel by Rhiannon Held, takes a very different approach to the werewolf and supernatural genre, and it’s one that ultimately pays off in the end.
The book follows Andrew Dare, a werewolf and enforcer for the Roanoke werewolf pack whose job it is to capture and kill any intruders of the Roanoke territory. One night he captures a crazed lone female werewolf who has been tortured, injected with silver, a practice that is feared and forbidden amongst the American werewolf territories, and suffers from violent hallucinations and is unable to shift into her wolf form as a result of the injected silver. When Andrew takes the lone wolf, who calls herself “Silver,” to his alpha, the alpha disregards Silver and wants to get rid of her without even investigating the person who injected her with the most feared weapon against werewolves. However, Andrew rebels against his alpha, befriends a wolf pack in the West Coast who might know some information about Silver’s torturer and becomes determined to find out who was responsible for causing Silver so much pain. He soon realizes that the person responsible could pose as a dangerous threat to werewolf packs on the entire continent.
There are many aspects to “Silver” that, while unconventional to the typical werewolf story, ultimately make the novel shine. While the opening is somewhat slow and confusing, with Andrew trying to track Silver and Silver seeing hallucinations of a werewolf named Death, it quickly picks up as you learn more about the werewolves in this world and the conflicts at hand. Held not only describes the struggles of werewolves living among human, but she also goes into great detail on their mythology, religion, beliefs, practices, and the importance of staying within a pack and not being a stray. It was very fascinating to read about and causes the reader to sympathize with werewolves in a way that’s usually not present in other werewolf stories. It’s also a bit unclear if the characters were going to be likeable or even memorable, but you soon learn to appreciate their interesting quirks, personalities and points of view. While Andrew is quite jaded and acts as though he doesn’t care or want to get too involved, he actually has a past that is tragic, violent, gave him a bad and feared rap amongst the American werewolf packs and earned him the nickname “the Butcher of Barcelona.” He’s a very well-done protagonist and anti-hero who, despite his aloof attitude and feared and seemingly untrustworthy reputation, proves to have more honor, care and common sense than most of the werewolves who are in higher, more respectable positions than he is. Silver is a great character as well, and while her confused, strange and unclear point of view does require some getting used to, she proves to be a very intelligent and strong woman and not just the crazy, hallucinating damsel in distress. All these aspects are what made “Silver” so hard to put down and makes the reader become so invested in the characters, conflicts and story.
If there are some flaws with “Silver,” there perhaps could’ve been more action scenes. This is an urban fantasy about werewolves, who are known for their vicious, dangerous, animalistic nature, so readers looking for that may be somewhat disappointed with the very few action scenes in the book. The ending, while did tie up all the loose ends, answer all the questions and have plenty of suspense, seemed a bit rushed and random and barely had any build up to it. It’s a hard one to explain without giving away spoilers, but the ending would’ve been a lot better if there was more of a build up to it and didn’t simply come out of nowhere.
However, the novel’s flaws don’t take away from the fact that this is a very entertaining and unique take on urban werewolf fantasy and a strong debut novel for Held. With its engaging story, gritty tone, well-developed characters and interesting mix of supernatural suspense, mystery and romance, “Silver” is a book I highly recommend whether you’re a fan of urban fantasy or not.