A horror/love story dealing with werewolves and offering some of the density of background found in the best vampire fiction. Opening with a quickly satisfying weave, this talented newcomer though never as stylish as Angela Carter (the incomparable wolf, werewolf, and Beauty and the Beast tales of Burning Your Boats, etc.), does know how to keep a tale moving. Boyd's tale begins when a massacre of three distinguished werewolves in a Fifth Avenue mansion prompts elderly, charismatic pack leader Alexander Devoncroix, now 120 years old, to tell his son, Nicholas Antonov Devoncroix, the full story behind the werewolf-owned, $30-billion financial and industrial Devoncroix Corporation. Back in the 1890s, it seems, Alexander fell in love with a human, Tessa LeGuerre, who tried to murder him in his bed but then was taken under his wing, made his ward, and eventually was brought to know the hidden werewolf society as no other human knew it. Werewolves in human form, she discovered, run much of the world, having made most of the great advances in science and technology. And they try, despite provocations, to coexist quietly with the far less intelligent human species. Tessa also learns that the act of transformation from human to werewolf—known as "the passion"—is a uniquely transcendent experience. A human-werewolf hybrid cannot exist in nature: The sex act would be too powerful for a human female to sustain, since during werewolf sex the total life-experience of each partner is exchanged in orgasm. This forbidden love, Tessa is warned, would turn her to cinders. As Boyd spins out her novel, werewolf society is split between the Devoncroix and the Siberian-based Dark Brotherhood, led by Alexander's brother Denis, who wants to rid the world entirely of pathetic, useless Homo sapiens and let werewolves rule supreme. Then, however, human-hating Denis himself falls in love with Tessa. . . . First installment of a series, and a promising one, in which animal instincts are plumbed and superfine senses evoked with great originality.
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