Thursday, 4 August 2011

Review: Wolfborn by Sue Bursztynski

The Story:
Etienne, son of a lord in the kingdom of Armorique, goes to train as a knight with Geraint of Lucanne. Geraint is brave and kind, a good teacher and master - but he has a secret that he has kept from his family. He is bisclavret, a born werewolf. When Geraint is betrayed, Etienne must ally with the local wise-woman and her daughter, themselves bisclavret, to save his lord. But time is running out. If Geraint's enemies have their way, Geraint will soon be trapped in his wolf form.
            And Etienne has his own secret. The decisions he makes will change his life forever… Inspired by a medieval romance, this engaging novel forces us to question everything we thought we knew about werewolves. - From the book jacket.

My Thoughts:
It's been a long time since I've read a book by a female author written from a male perspective. My brain is telling me the last one was The Outsiders by S.E Hinton but that can't be right, and if it is, it means I'm old because that was in high school. Anyway, the reason I mention the female author/male character dynamic is because I often find it puts me off an entire book if it's not done well. Thankfully, Wolfborn doesn't fall into that category. Etienne's voice was both believable and likeable and I found the premise behind the novel fascinating.
        Wolfborn works on the assumption that being a werewolf is a gift from the gods and if you stay in your wolf shape for too long, you will lose your humanity. Its one of the rare werewolf books I've read that features the idea that werewolves need an article of their human clothing in order to revert back to their human form. Sue Bursztynski weaves this aspect into an interesting novel that deals with complex ideas but is also easy to read.  
       I think my favourite part about Wolfborn was that it was in effect a retelling of a twelfth century story that has it's basis in Irish and Arthurian folklore. This made me imagine that once upon a time the story could have been based on a true account and I did a little dance. Yes it makes me happy thinking that werewolves could be real. 
       Sadly, the novels ending kind of let the book down in my opinion.  The last few chapters focused mainly on Etienne's romance with Jeanne, the wise-woman's daughter, and I thought it was a bit unnecessary. The climax and struggle had already ended by that point and I wasn't sure why the novel was still continuing. Possibly to highlight that even love might not be strong enough sometimes to override a wolf's innate urge to be wild and run free.
      Overall, I enjoyed Wolfborn and recommend it to anyone who's looking for an interesting but more traditional werewolf tale without the teen drama.

Sue Bursztynski is a blogger as well! You can find her blog The Great Raven here

This book was read as part of my  2011 Aussie Author Challenge.


  1. I've seen this in a few bookstores lately, i just love the cover.
    And i always find it interesting when a female writer writes from a males perspective.
    I may have to check this out :)

  2. This is going on my TBR list right now! I love a good werewolf story, especially one without teen drama. (They are getting rather hard to find, aren't they?)
    Thanks for the review! I'd never even heard of this one.

  3. Added to me TBR list! The review was great. What twelfth century story is it based on?

  4. Hi girls, I read this book as part of my Aussie Author Challenge so I hope it's available overseas as well.

    Beth: The twelfth century story is called Breton Lais by a lady known only as Marie de France.

  5. ~Runs off to the wiki~
    What would we do without Wikipedia?
    Because it never lies, right? j/k

    I did look it up. It is like a book of poems, or verses on courtly love. One of them is titled Bisclavret (werewolf). Now I am going to have to read it too. lol.

  6. Hey Lan!
    This looks like a good one. Most of the time male MCs, or male POVs, put me off. I never really considered whether female or male authors wrote them better. I'm going to pay closer attention now (who knows? It might just be I haven't liked the way women have wrote them). B/C two books I really did like from a male POV were King Dork and Rot and Ruin (both by male authors). It sounds like a really good book; I don't care what people say. I still love werewolves :) And I can also see what you're saying about an ending that seems to long. I think that is the downfall of many books, not stopping when they should.

    Ninja Girl

  7. I've never read any books centered on werewolves before (unless you count ... Twilight? Sort of?), but this one sounds like a good on to start with! I also dislike it when endings seem to drag on after the climax of the story has come and gone.

  8. Beth: How scary is our reliance on Wikipedia? It's not even 100% accurate but I am on there all the time. I got my info off the 'afterwards' section of the book which has a little bit of a history lesson as the author appears to have really done her homework!

    Ninja Girl: I don't usually like to read from male MC's either. It's so much harder to relate to. But there are some authors who do it so well. It's funny because I enjoyed this female written male MC but I really couldn't get into some male written male MC books :( Maybe it's just the author's writing in geenral

    Jinny: OMG Jinny! Never? There are so many good books about werewolves! Try Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause. It's fantastic.

  9. Great review!! This is a new book to me. It sounds interesting! I'm glad you enjoyed it despite the ending. :) Thanks for sharing!!

  10. Thanks so much for the great review! And fear not, commenters, the last bit is only one chapter long and I felt that finishing it with Etienne and Jeanne wandering off into the sunset immediately would be too cliched. The girl had been used to living in the forest and panicked at what was going to happen, something that had been hinted through out the novel - but I won't add spoilers. Read it! ;-)

    If you're outside Australia, you can get it as an e-book OR you can buy it in hard copy through Fishpond. The postage is dear, but if you buy more than one Aussie book it can end up not much dearer than postage in Australia. And there are so many wonderful Aussie YA novels around.


I believe in comment karma. Comment and I shall return :)