Unleashed, by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

First of all, I'd like to congratulate whoever designed the cover art for Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie's Wolf Springs Chronicles: Unleashed for finding a model who so closely resembles Buffy Summers. Well played, cover designer, well played indeed. Nothing says “smart paranormal fiction” like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so this book was off to an excellent start before I'd even opened it.

Happily, the good will generated by the cover wasn't totally wiped out by the book, despite its slightly uneven quality. The heroine of Unleashed is a sixteen-year-old dancer and gymnast named Katelyn McBride. When her mother dies in an earthquake, Katelyn is shipped off to stay with her grandfather in Wolf Springs, an isolated town in the Ozark Mountains. Wolf Springs is a town full of secrets, and between her taciturn grandfather's oddly strict house rules and a series of unexplained wolf attacks in the area, Katelyn soon discovers that she has more to worry about than fitting in at a new school.

Katelyn is a pleasant but totally forgettable heroine (and she ends up in an equally forgettable love triangle, naturally), but she isn't the only protagonist in Unleashed. By the third chapter Katelyn has met Cordelia Fenner, the youngest daughter of a powerful local family. Cordelia's domineering father constantly pits Cordelia and her vicious older sisters against each other in a series of intense physical contests. The book's official plot description makes no mention of this not-particularly-subtle tribute to Shakespeare's King Lear, which sucks, because it's by far the most interesting element of the novel.

This is second book we've featured in the past month to blend Shakespeare with YA paranormal romance, and it does a far more effective job of it than Stacey Jay's Juliet Immortal. (I'd say I planned it this way, but I seriously had no idea the King Lear stuff in Unleashed was there.) Unleashed is the first book in a series, and—thanks mostly to the Cordelia storyline—I'm totally excited to read the next installment. Katelyn's troubles might be a dime a dozen, but a supernatural take on King Lear is both unexpected and surprisingly entertaining.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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