Wolf at the Door by J. Damask is a nice turn on the usual werewolf tale. Jan Xu is a wolf but not a traditional werewolf, at least not in Damask’s world. She’s a Chinese mother, mentor, and daughter of the pack leaders living in Singapore. Devoted to her family and friends, other Myriads (shape-shifters), Jan is loyal, fearless, and assaulted by the tragic fruits born of her sister, Marianne’s, envy and hatred because Jan can turn into a wolf and Marianne cannot. This leads to family turmoil, a Hitler-like werewolf bent on cultivating a pure canis lupus population, and a serious threat to all those Jan loves, including her innocent little daughters.
Damask’s rich detailed description of Singapore gives this wolf tale a fresh setting. Her wolves are familiar, yet interesting for their eastern touches. And the fact that Damask chooses to use a mother of two small children as her heroine allows her to explore aspects of life and lupine culture rarely seen in urban fantasy.
Wolf at the Door follows two narratives, the primary present and one from the past that mirrors the main plot. The combination is a bit confusing at times, but Damask uses the past story to add depth and insight into the characters and their relationships that would have been much more difficult to achieve another way. But if there is one thing I can say for Damask’s writing no matter which scene, present or past: she knows how to thread tension into everything. Whether mortal danger is right around the corner or Damask simply employs the contrasts between the modern world and that of the natural and the wolf, I never found a moment where the narrative was not compelling.
Do I recommend Wolf at the Door? If you like werewolves, books set in unusual settings, or stories about family or the sad results of destructive hatred, absolutely. Here’s to J. Damask for writing a werewolf tale a thoroughly enjoyed. I’m looking forward to her next novel, Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye.