Review: Bonds of Fenris by S.J. Bell

Posted May 2nd, 2012 in book review / Leave a comment

Bonds of Fenris

by S.J. Bell

Publisher: Self-Published (May 7, 2012)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 226 (ebook) (ARC)
Source: Review Request by Author
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: ★★★½☆ (3.5 stars)

Summary
Talia Thornwood’s life ended one year ago, when she became a werewolf. She survived the attack, and the horrifying transformation a month later, but the life she has now is barely worth living. She lurks about in a filthy, run-down house, with too many werewolves crammed into too small a space. Every day is a struggle against the stress of human contact, the romantic prodding of her obnoxious packmate Pierce, and the gnawing hunger for flesh in her soul.

She’s all but resigned herself to a dreary existence on the margins of society when she meets Corwin. Corwin is a werewolf like none other. He walks among humans as if it was nothing, and can keep his wolf under control even when the moon is full. Talia’s mind is suddenly opened to the possibilities before her, and the realization of how little she really knows about lycanthropy.

Corwin claims that he can teach her how to cope as he does, even how to transcend her affliction. But it will not be easy. It is a hard education that requires her to question everything her pack taught her, and confront exactly what she has become. And, more amazingly, what she never stopped being. ~ Goodreads

The Good
Psychological Warfare…
I was very surprised by the amount of depth Bonds of Fenris had. This is not your average werewolf novel. The action is not the focus. This novel is about the downside of being a werewolf. The aggression, the loneliness, and the inability to be around humans without wanting to eat them. Then we get into the psychological warfare a werewolf must go through to overcome the vicious part of the their animal. It really opened my mind to a new type of werewolf, one that must learn the real meaning of being an animal and a human.

It’s a Hard Knock Life…
Talia’s life made my heart ache. She was so lost. Her soul sad and wanting. Desperately wanting her old life back. Just the idea of being able to be around her family without wanting to maul them or being around her old friends without wanting to eat them helps Talia keep living every day. Even though the life she has now is incomplete, a half life of sorts. And her fellow werewolves only make life less worth living. The constant bickering, fights, desperation, and unwanted sexual advances. Living in a filthy place of hostility has almost crushed Talia’s spirit. Until she meets Corwin.

On the Brink…
Corwin has found a way to live a real life but is reluctant to teach Talia his way of living. The trial she must go through to learn to live with peace in her heart is one that can very well kill her. But Talia feels that if she continues down the path she is on, she is already as good as dead. It may sound a little dramatic but once you read Talia’s story, I think you will wholeheartedly agree. Fearing that you will one day eat someone by accident is no way to live. And though she loves her pack, for they are the ones who taught her at least a little control, she can’t help but feel like they also bring her closer to the brink of insanity.

What a Character…
I was actually enthralled by each person in this novel. Talia was sad but optimistic. She was a great combination of weak and strong. Corwin was thoughtful and patient. He had a gentleness about him that made you love him. Pierce was immature because of his age but surprisingly admirable for his ability to bring the pack together. Bo wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but he had a huge heart. Leroy was the peacemaker. His goal was to bring the pack closer together and live in harmony. Marlene thought she knew best, but even she had problems she needed to work out. Each character had their own unique personalities that drew me further into their stories.

Human, Animal, or Werewolf?
Bonds of Fenris is a well written book. It has a lay back feel to it. But the theme of self-discovery is very powerful. Bell takes us into a world were werewolves can’t just learn control, they must dig deeper into what they really are. Are they humans, animals, or werewolves?

The Bad
The story was a little up and down, so sometimes I had my eyes glued to the pages, and other times I could easily put it down. I felt like it took a long time to get to the part were Corwin and Talia work together to control her beast. I would have liked to get to that section of the plot a little earlier. It’s the best part after all.

Though the psychological depth of the book was very interesting and original, I wish there was a little more action on a consistent bases. We get action in the beginning then the end, and that’s about it.

Sometimes the philosophical part of the book got a bit much for me. It made sense, but I did roll my eyes once or twice.

The Snuggly
We do get a little romance but it’s not a romance novel by any means. We get to witness a relationship between Talia and Corwin grow. The sex is more behind the scenes, so it is a pretty mild book when it comes to sex and romance. I liked that Talia and Corwin did not fall into insta-love. They took their time, made sure they were meant for each other.

Overall
Are you looking for a different kind of werewolf book? One that expands on the psychological and philosophical parts of being half wolf and half human? Then this book is for you. Bell has developed great characters that anyone could sympathize with. I enjoyed reading Bond of Fernis. It surprised me, and that’s hard to do with the many paranormal books out there these days. A recommended read.

Excerpts
The truly awful thing about full-moon nights is, they feel good. It’s almost like a drug. Yes, you’ll wake up the next morning feeling rotten about yourself for enjoying the blood, the murder, the loss of your humanity. But in the moment it’s euphoric, an indescribable sensation of freedom and power. You run free, king of the wild lands, all creatures within it submissive or powerless before your fast legs and sharp, killing teeth. No need for any thought but pure instinct. No need to do anything but just be.

Not the first time, mind you. The first time is pure, unadulterated hell.
~~~~~~~

As we trotted off, noses alert for any possible prey, Pierce nudged up against me, apparently not ready to give up. I ignored him, even when he progressed to licking my cheek apologetically. My disdain only made him more insistent. He nudged me again, more forcefully, as if chastising me for insulting him. When he nudged me a third time, almost hard enough to shove me off balance, I’d had enough. I turned with a growl and snapped at him with my jaws. He snapped back at me, indignant and angry. We barked at each other for a bit, and then I started nipping at the tip of his nose, indicating that he should back of now. Instead, Pierce lost his temper and lunged at me, sinking his teeth into my side.
~~~~~~~
Our lives are what we make them, Talia. We have the things that we do because we work for them, or because we fail to work for something better. I mean, take your own example. You want to be in love, so you’re kissing frogs like mad to find it.



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