Lord of the Wolfyn by Jessica Andersen is an interesting twist on the old Red Riding Hood story. It is also the third book in the Royal House of Shadows series. The fourth and final book, Lord of the Abyss by Nalini Singh, will be out in November.
Dayn was the second prince of Elden. The Crown Prince Nicolai’s story was told in Lord of the Vampires (reviewed here). When the Blood Sorcerer attacked, Dayn was outside the castle with a hunting party. Not just because hunting dangerous beasts who roamed near the castle was part of his duties, but because he was angry with the King and Queen, his parents, for telling him he had to marry a princess instead of the continuing to dally with whomever he pleased. Their argument was the last time they ever spoke before their deaths at the hands of the Blood Sorcerer.
Their final spell saved his life, as it did the lives of his siblings. His father’s spell for revenge, and his mother’s spell for him to survive. Their spell created a vortex and bound his life with the wolfyn he was chasing at the time of their deaths. It transported him to the realm of the wolfyn and gave him the power to transform into one of the powerful werebeasts. But Dayn was also vampire, like his brother and father, and the wolfyn realms hated and feared with vampires. Dayn spent the next 20 years pretending to have “vortex sickness,” hiding all his gifts from the wolfyn he lived among by pretending to be only a human traveler with a small amount of magic.
Dreams and visions told him that he would be visited by a guide when the vortex began opening again. He waited 20 years for that guide, never expecting a woman from Earth with no belief in magic or vortex travel would be the one supposed to guide him back to his kingdom, or back to his true self.
Reda Weston has been haunted by the tale of Red Riding Hood since she was a little girl. Not the Disney version, but a very special version, from a “one-of-a-kind” illustrated edition of the story that her mother used to read to her. In Rutakoppchen, the wolf seduces Red first, then he enslaves her, then he plays with her until he gets bored, and then, and only then, does he finally eat her all up. Her mother told her this as a bedtime story?
But Reda’s father made her sell the book after her mother’s death, and now Reda is compelled to get it back. She’s been dreaming about the Woodsman, and those dreams are the only part of her life that feels real anymore. Reda used to be a cop. But one night she froze when her partner got caught up in a convenience store robbery that went bad, and Reba isn’t a cop anymore.
Finding Rutakoppchen again does more than bring back childhood memories. It opens a door for Reba. It opens a vortex–straight through to Dayn. And the wolfyn.
At first Reba thinks she’s having a really vivid dream. She’s dreamed of Dayn before, and those dreams have always been really good. And really hot. But never in her dreams has the Woodsman turned out to be a vampire. Nor have predatory trees tried to make the ground swallow her alive.
This is Reba’s journey as much, or more, than it is Dayn’s. She needs to find her cop’s courage again so that she can be the guide that he needs in order to help re-take his kingdom. And Dayn needs to find his true self and true purpose in order to be the mate that Reba deserves.
Escape Rating C+: I liked the twist on Red Riding Hood. Dayn turns out to be both the Woodsman and the Wolf. Literally and not just figuratively. Reba comes a long way in picking herself up and taking charge of her own fate. Coming through the vortex lets her grab the missing pieces of herself. It’s clear she’s been letting other people tell her who she’s supposed to be for way too long, and it’s great to see her realize that.
While I enjoyed the parts with Dayn and Reba, even though I wished that Dayn wouldn’t have kept so many secrets from so many people for so damn long, the issue with series like Royal House of Shadows is that chunks of the same story have to be told each time, just from different points of view. The first time it’s new, the second time it’s not so bad (sister Breena’s tale was Lord of Rage—see review here), but by the third time around, it’s too much. I’m more than ready for the conclusion. It’s time for that dark sorcerer to DIE!