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Review: Bonds of Fenris by S.J. Bell

Bonds of Fenris by S.J. Bell

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Synopsis from Goodreads
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. 



* * * 
Bonds of Fenris surprised me. Judging by the synopsis I was expecting something along the lines of Carrie Vaughn or at least Kelley Armstrong, but this was a deep soul-searching story of someone who finds her own identity along the way. In fact, S.J.Bell's emphasis on our struggles with our own humanity strongly reminded me of Maggie Stiefvater's work.

Talia is a young woman whose life changed for the worse since she was attacked and turned by a mad werewolf. Luckily she was found by his other victims before her first change, and they tried to teach her the ropes of dealing with her condition.

Since then she ceased all contact with her family, barely manages at college and is forced to do jobs that require as little contact with people as possible. The other members of her bedraggled pack are doing even worse, because none of them can control their werewolf nature properly and they are terrified that they might attack people on the street because of that.

One night during the full moon when Talia is forced to change, she meets a strange werewolf who can resist the call of the moon, mingle with people and lead a normal life. Corwin tells her to come to him if she needs to talk to someone or ask for help.

Desperate, depressed and struggling to have some semblance of normal life Talia decides to see him despite her pack's warnings not to trust this stranger, and Corwin offers her a chance to learn to control her wolf. 

Corwin himself learnt all this by chance, almost dying in process, so the conditions he recreates are dangerous and almost impossible to work with. In fact, none of the other werewolves he tried to help managed to get through the quest, but Talia has nothing to lose, she is strong, stubborn and very determined.

What follows is a very interesting and difficult psychological experiment with unexpected results that in retrospect make perfect sense, and I loved that! I loved how S.J.Bell used the power of human mind instead of some weird and wonderful magical potions to reach the solution to Talia's problem.

This book is very grounded, the characters are easy to relate to, and most importantly, Bonds of Fenris makes you think. Not many books do that these days.

My only complaint is that Talia's voice is hard to get into, it takes some time to get used to her actions being described at the same time as her thoughts on her past actions, which for me slowed everything down.

Overall, recommended to all fans of werewolves and Maggie Stiefvater.

* * *
Очень хорошо написана книга, да и с интересным взглядом на ликантропию и как с ней бороться.

В Узах Фенриса очень мала паранормального, но очень много психоанализа и размышлений, поисков самого себя и понимания своей сущности.

Талия живет в коммунальном доме своей стаи с тех пор как её атаковал и укусил сумасшедший оборотень. Группа остальных его жертв нашла Талию до её первого полнолуния и помогла ей его пережить.

В последующие несколько месяцев Талия отрезала себя от семьи, перестала общаться со своими друзьями, нашла работу с минимальным общением, и год спустя всё никак не может закончить колледж по одной причине - она и остальные члены её стаи не могут контролировать свою волчью натуру, которая постонно пытается вырваться на поверхность.

Когда Талия встречает Корвина, незнакомого оборотня, который в ночь полной луны может оставаться человеком и живёт нормальной комфортной жизнью, он говорит ей что знает как контролировать своего волка, и Талия хочет того же с отчаянной надеждой человека на грани депрессии, которому просто нечего больше терять.

Корвин предупреждает её, что его метод опасен, что нашёл он его, чуть ли не умерев в процессе, и до него ещё ни один из оборотней, которых он пытался обучить не смог достичь того же, но Талия отбрасывает все сомнения и прилагает все усилия, чтобы достичь того же уровня самоконтроля, которым обладает Корвин.

Что мне жутко понравилось - это то, что автор не использует магию и всяческие порошки и заклинания, чтобы достичь желаемого успеха, вместо этого показывая как результатов можно достигнуть силой человеческого ума и веры в себя.

Что мне далось с трудом -  это привыкнуть к голосу Талии, от лица которой ведётся повествование. Она не только описывает, что происходит, но и размышляет и удаляется в прошлое в то же самое время, что замедляет всё книгу.

Рекомендую все поклонникам книг об оборотнях и творчества Мэгги Стифвотер. Как и книги Мэгги, С.Дж. Белл заставляет читателя задуматься, что не часто встретишь в подобной литературе.

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