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Once There Were Wolves

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* INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * From the author of the beloved national bestseller Migrations, a pulse-pounding new novel set in the wild Scottish Highlands. Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, bu * INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * From the author of the beloved national bestseller Migrations, a pulse-pounding new novel set in the wild Scottish Highlands. Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but Aggie, too, unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska. Inti is not the woman she once was, either, changed by the harm she’s witnessed—inflicted by humans on both the wild and each other. Yet as the wolves surprise everyone by thriving, Inti begins to let her guard down, even opening herself up to the possibility of love. But when a farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept her wolves could be responsible, Inti makes a reckless decision to protect them. But if the wolves didn’t make the kill, then who did? And what will Inti do when the man she is falling for seems to be the prime suspect? Propulsive and spell-binding, Charlotte McConaghy's Once There Were Wolves is the unforgettable story of a woman desperate to save the creatures she loves—if she isn’t consumed by a wild that was once her refuge.


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* INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * From the author of the beloved national bestseller Migrations, a pulse-pounding new novel set in the wild Scottish Highlands. Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, bu * INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * From the author of the beloved national bestseller Migrations, a pulse-pounding new novel set in the wild Scottish Highlands. Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but Aggie, too, unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska. Inti is not the woman she once was, either, changed by the harm she’s witnessed—inflicted by humans on both the wild and each other. Yet as the wolves surprise everyone by thriving, Inti begins to let her guard down, even opening herself up to the possibility of love. But when a farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept her wolves could be responsible, Inti makes a reckless decision to protect them. But if the wolves didn’t make the kill, then who did? And what will Inti do when the man she is falling for seems to be the prime suspect? Propulsive and spell-binding, Charlotte McConaghy's Once There Were Wolves is the unforgettable story of a woman desperate to save the creatures she loves—if she isn’t consumed by a wild that was once her refuge.

30 review for Once There Were Wolves

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    I had always known there was something different about me, but that was the day I first recognized it to be dangerous. It was also the day, as I stumbled out of the shed into a long violet dusk, that I looked to the trees’ edge and saw my first wolf, and it saw me. -------------------------------------- They’re more dangerous than we are.” “Are they?” I ask. “They are wilder, certainly.” “Isn’t it the same?” “I don’t think so. I think it’s civilization makes us violent. We infect each other.” I had always known there was something different about me, but that was the day I first recognized it to be dangerous. It was also the day, as I stumbled out of the shed into a long violet dusk, that I looked to the trees’ edge and saw my first wolf, and it saw me. -------------------------------------- They’re more dangerous than we are.” “Are they?” I ask. “They are wilder, certainly.” “Isn’t it the same?” “I don’t think so. I think it’s civilization makes us violent. We infect each other.” Inti Flynn had always had a feel for nature. Her father had been a woodsman, first working for a lumber company, then, later, living a mostly solo subsistence life, in Canada, trying his best not to contribute to the global demise. He taught Inti and her twin, Aggie, about how to live in and with the wild. Their mother, a detective in Australia, was more concerned with teaching them how to contend with the wild in civilization. There is a lot in here about parents (and a little about wolves) teaching children (or pups) how to cope in the world, how to defend against predators. The human sorts offer different approaches, some counseling firm defenses, others advising understanding, and some resorting to extreme kinetic measures. There are plenty of parents teaching questionable lessons. Charlotte McConoughy - image from If.com.au Dad used to tell me that my greatest gift was that I could get inside the skin of another human. That I could feel what nobody else could, the life of another, really feel it and roll around in it. That the body knows a great deal and I have the miraculous ability to know more than one body. The astonishing cleverness of nature. He also taught us that compassion was the most important thing we could learn. If someone hurt us, we needed only empathy, and forgiveness would be easy. Inti’s gift is not metaphorical. Her ability to experience what others feel, gives her a unique advantage in understanding both wildlife and people. It also makes her very vulnerable. I am unlike most people. I move through life in a different way, with an entirely unique understanding of touch. Before I knew its name I knew this. To make sense of it, it is called a neurological condition. Mirror-touch synesthesia. My brain re-creates the sensory experiences of living creatures, of all people and even sometimes animals; if I see it I feel it, and for just a moment I am them, we are one and their pain or pleasure is my own. It can seem like magic and for a long time I thought it was, but really it’s not so far removed from how other brains behave: the physiological response to witnessing someone’s pain is a cringe, a recoil, a wince. We are hardwired for empathy. Once upon a time I took delight in feeling what others felt. Now the constant stream of sensory information exhausts me. Now I’d give anything to be cut free. McConaghy’s prior novel, Migrations, looked at the demise of wildlife (birds in particular, and even more particularly terns) in a slightly future world. In this one, she continues her interest in the impact of people on the natural environment. Officially, the last wolf in Scotland was killed in 1680. There are reports of wolves being seen as late as 1888, but Scotland has been essentially wolf-free for well over three centuries. Sadly for Scottish woodlands, it has not been farmer, sheep, or climate-change-free. Part of the problem is that the local deer population tends to linger in place long enough to lay waste to new shoots. A great way to keep them moving is to reintroduce wolves. Good for the goal of restoring natural forest, re-wilding at least part of Scotland is good for the health of the deer population as well. Thus, Inti’s presence. She is leading a team charged with re-introducing a small population of wolves to a remote part of Scotland, near the Cairngorms, a mountainous area in the highlands. The Cairngorms - Image from The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds As one might imagine, there is considerable resistance among farmers concerned about the potential loss of livestock. The minimal-to-non-existent actual danger to humans is played up by those opposed to the reintroduction. Battle lines are drawn. The program has official sanction, but the locals have guns, and itchy fingers. And then someone goes missing. Inti’s primary concern is with the danger to the program, as she expects her wolves to be blamed. The mystery for us is why, and how this person vanished. After a meet-cute early in the book, Inti and the local sheriff, Duncan MacTavish, team up, in a way, to try figuring out what happened. There are other mysteries as well, albeit of a different sort. What happened to Inti’s sister that had left her so damaged? Is Duncan trustworthy? The book alternates between the present and looking back at two periods in Inti’s and Aggie’s lives, with their father in British Columbia, where they learned how to live off the land, and as adults, when Inti was working on a wolf project in Alaska. Red deer are Scotland’s largest surviving, native, wild land mammal. It’s estimated that there are 400,000 of them in the Scottish Highlands - image and text from Good Nature Travel Inti struggles with her desire to protect her wolves, and her need to engage with the locals as something other than as a know-it-all outsider. The complexity of the town’s social relations is quite fascinating. Duncan is our eyes on this, and a big help to Inti, knowing so well the people in the community in which he had grown up, understanding motivations, relationships, and local history much better than any outsider could. Abuse is a central issue, in both the Old and the New World, whether at the hands of the distraught, the damaged, or the downright evil. Multiple characters in Scotland come from homes in which there was violence, whether against spouses, children, or both. It is clear that one of the locals has beaten his wife. Other instances of family violence are important to the story. The abuse that does take place is mostly done off-screen, reported, but not seen first-hand. Inti’s attempt at restoring the Scottish landscape, of giving new opportunities to a much-reviled species mirrors her attempt to heal, to restore the vitality of her own family. A wealthy landowner in Scotland is hoping to bring wolves from Sweden to the Scottish Highlands to thin the herd of red deer. - image and text from Good Nature Travel One can probably make too much of it (I am sure I did), but I found it fun to look at the wolves for indications of comparison to the human characters. Was Inti like Six (the wolves are given numbers not names, for the most part). Who might be lone wolves? Who is fiercest in protecting their pack/family? Who are the alphas? There is much resonance with Migrations. Both leads are working far from home. Both are trying to do something to help in a world that seems set against accepting any. Although she has her sister with her in Wolves, Inti is primarily a solo actor. She finds a family of a sort with charming, and not-so-charming locals, in the way that Franny Stone in Migrations teamed up with the fishing boat crew. Like Franny, Inti bears the burden of deep, traumatic family secrets. Like Franny, she is trying to find her true home, whether that be in Scotland, Canada, Australia, or maybe wherever the wolves are. Inti has a near-magical power of sensitivity. Franny had special abilities in the water. Like Franny, Inti teams up with a guy in a position of some power. In Migrations it was Ennis Malone, captain of a fishing boat. Here it is Duncan McTavish, the local sheriff. In both novels McConaghy shows the concerns of those imperiled by the front lines of attempts to correct a bad ecological situation. Of the two, this novel struck me as a bit more optimistic about the possibilities of making meaningful change. In the real world, wolves have not been officially introduced back into Scotland, but there is one wealthy individual who is looking at doing so in a limited way. Who knows? Maybe the re-wilding of Scotland is not entirely a pipe dream. Once There Were Wolves offers a close look at the issues involved in programs of this sort. The locals are accorded plenty of respect for and insight into their legitimate concerns, as we get to see past the rejectionist veneer. Very hard choices must be made, and the decision-making is very adult. Inti is a tough young woman with a challenging responsibility. It is easy to care about what happens to her. McConaghy keeps the action flowing, so there is no danger of losing interest. The main mystery is very intriguing and the final explanation is twisty and wonderful, with Inti finding her inner Miss Marple to sleuth her way to the truth. Once you sink your canines into this one, you will not want to let go. There are hankie moments as well. Tears will be shed. Set in a wintry place, it seems an ideal book to cool off with in the hot summer months. (Of course, if you read this in cooler months, it is distinctly possible that you will be wearing some wool, and thus will be reading a book about wolves while in sheep’s clothing. Just sayin’.) It seems appropriate to keep a modest supply of whiskey near to hand, just for ambience, of course. Or for those of the teetotaler persuasion, maybe some Irn-Bru. As for the best place in which to read this book, and read it you should, that should be obvious, in a den. There is violence in me, in my hands, which vibrate with the need to exert some kind of control, some defiance, and if it is revenge for the things that have been taken from me then fine, I will have that too. I am done with falling prey. I will be predator, at last. I will forget the walls and the self-protection and I will become the thing I hunt and feel it all. Review posted – July 9, 2021 Publication date – August 3, 2021 I received an E-ARE of OTWW in return for a fair review. Thanks to Amelia at Flatiron, to NetGalley for hosting the book and to MC for facilitating. The review has been cross-posted at my site, Coot's Reviews =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal, Instagram, Twitter and FB pages Interviews Interviews with CM re this book have been as tough to find as Scottish wolves, but I did unearth an oldie, from 2014. I am sure after the book is released there will be more interviews available. There are several interview links in my review of Migrations -----AusRom Today - AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Charlotte McConaghy - from 2014 – this relates to her very early, romantic fantasy writing My review of McConaghy’s previous book -----2020 - Migrations Items of Interest -----Sea Wolves - Panthalassa.Org - mentioned in Chapter 8 -----Good Nature Travel - Bringing Wolves Back to Scotland by Candace Gaukel Andrews -----The Guardian - Stories to save the world: the new wave of climate fiction by Claire Armitstead -----Wiki on mirror touch synesthesia - yes, this is a real thing -----Travel Medium - Why Are There No Trees in Scotland? by Paul McDougal – this is a wonderful overview of how Scotland lost so much of its woodlands over the last 6,000 years -----Public Domain Review - Werner's Nomenclature of Colours - Inti’s father kept a copy for use in his work - Chapter 3 -----The Guardian - Rewilding: should we bring the lynx back to Britain? by Phoebe Weston - 8/16/21 - One proposed re-wilding site is the same one used in this book

  2. 5 out of 5

    MarilynW

    Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld Inti Flynn is the leader of a team of biologists reintroducing wolves to the Highlands of Scotland. The hope is that by bringing these predators back to the area that nature can achieve the balance it needs for the land to heal itself and grow in the way that it needs to grow for centuries to come. Inty brings her broken sister, Aggie, hoping she can heal her, too. I was so angry with Inti, despite all the good she is at Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld Inti Flynn is the leader of a team of biologists reintroducing wolves to the Highlands of Scotland. The hope is that by bringing these predators back to the area that nature can achieve the balance it needs for the land to heal itself and grow in the way that it needs to grow for centuries to come. Inty brings her broken sister, Aggie, hoping she can heal her, too. I was so angry with Inti, despite all the good she is attempting to do, because I could feel the stress and frustration she was bringing with her, to the lives of people whose livelihoods she was threatening. Inti could have used some diplomatic skills but she suffers her own traumas from the past and she is as mistrustful of humans as her wolves. Regardless of laws or rules, she does what she wants, releases the wolves behind the backs of those she is supposed to notify, takes the law in her own hands to punish those she wants to punish, tramples on life for her own reasons, without thinking or caring that she is hurting humans and animals. I know my thoughts towards her are harsh but I could feel the damage she was doing, in the name of her goals, fine and honorable goals that will be more attainable with a softer approach to the people and way of life that she is threatening. The writing is beautiful and we are in the head of Inty. We can see that even she is of two minds, torn in so many ways, not always knowing what is best but also knowing that some of what she does hurts both people and animals. Inty is hurt, angry, confused, and she feels powerless to change the past and to fix the future. I am so impressed with how the author brings about Inty's awareness that she went about things in manner that was not helpful and that she knows she needs to find a better way. The very people that she demonized as being in her way of making the earth a better place, once she stops to really get to know them, are people that are willing to work with her, if she would only talk to them. I loved this aspect of the book, that it addressed the very things that were bothering me about Inty. The audio version of the book is lovely. I was able to switch between the audio version and the digital version which was helpful to me during the most violent passages of this story. This is not a peaceful book, violence plays a key part in the story, and it was hard for me to see/hear those parts of the book. Publication: August 3rd 2021 Thank you to Flatiron Books, Macmillan Audio, and NetGalley for this ARC.

  3. 5 out of 5

    MarilynW

    Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld Inti Flynn is the leader of a team of biologists reintroducing wolves to the Highlands of Scotland. The hope is that by bringing these predators back to the area that nature can achieve the balance it needs for the land to heal itself and grow in the way that it needs to grow for centuries to come. Inty brings her broken sister, Aggie, hoping she can heal her, too. I was so angry with Inti, despite all the good she is at Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld Inti Flynn is the leader of a team of biologists reintroducing wolves to the Highlands of Scotland. The hope is that by bringing these predators back to the area that nature can achieve the balance it needs for the land to heal itself and grow in the way that it needs to grow for centuries to come. Inty brings her broken sister, Aggie, hoping she can heal her, too. I was so angry with Inti, despite all the good she is attempting to do, because I could feel the stress and frustration she was bringing with her, to the lives of people whose livelihoods she was threatening. Inti could have used some diplomatic skills but she suffers her own traumas from the past and she is as mistrustful of humans as her wolves. Regardless of laws or rules, she does what she wants, releases the wolves behind the backs of those she is supposed to notify, takes the law in her own hands to punish those she wants to punish, tramples on life for her own reasons, without thinking or caring that she is hurting humans and animals. I know my thoughts towards her are harsh but I could feel the damage she was doing, in the name of her goals, fine and honorable goals that will be more attainable with a softer approach to the people and way of life that she is threatening. The writing is beautiful and we are in the head of Inty. We can see that even she is of two minds, torn in so many ways, not always knowing what is best but also knowing that some of what she does hurts both people and animals. Inty is hurt, angry, confused, and she feels powerless to change the past and to fix the future. I am so impressed with how the author brings about Inty's awareness that she went about things in manner that was not helpful and that she knows she needs to find a better way. The very people that she demonized as being in her way of making the earth a better place, once she stops to really get to know them, are people that are willing to work with her, if she would only talk to them. I loved this aspect of the book, that it addressed the very things that were bothering me about Inty. The audio version of the book is lovely. I was able to switch between the audio version and the digital version which was helpful to me during the most violent passages of this story. This is not a peaceful book, violence plays a key part in the story, and it was hard for me to see/hear those parts of the book. Publication: August 3rd Thank you to Flatiron Books, Macmillan Audio, and NetGalley for this ARC.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY*** This is an incredible novel!! It touches upon so many important issues including, rape, physical and verbal abuse of women, toxic relationships and sisterhood. Climate change is discussed along with man’s increasing interference with the cycle of life and ecosystems of our planet. Inti is a young biologist and the novel is told from her POV. She has a twin sister, Aggie and the girls grew up living sometimes with their dad in the forest and other times with their mothe ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY*** This is an incredible novel!! It touches upon so many important issues including, rape, physical and verbal abuse of women, toxic relationships and sisterhood. Climate change is discussed along with man’s increasing interference with the cycle of life and ecosystems of our planet. Inti is a young biologist and the novel is told from her POV. She has a twin sister, Aggie and the girls grew up living sometimes with their dad in the forest and other times with their mother in Australia. Inti has a condition called mirror-touch synesthesia. When she is close to someone she can, literally, feel their pain if they are injured or hurt. It’s not an easy thing to live with. Their dad lives a simple life in the forests of Canada. He once worked for a lumber company and now lives an almost solo existence in the forest, hunts, fishes and grows his food. He has taught the girls all he knows. Their mother is a detective in Australia. She sees the terrible crimes that people commit and is always cautioning the girls not to trust anyone. She teaches them to be cautious and prepared should they be attacked, they learn self defense. Now a young biologist, Inti has come to the Scottish Highlands for a project to reintroduce the wolf into the ecosystem. She is the head researcher coordinating a small group of biologists. The wolves were hunted to extinction with much negative impact on the environment. Deer have over-populated the area and eat the shoots of young plants and trees so that the Highlands are now devoid of some of the native trees, etc. It is used mostly for sheep farming. As was expected, there is much anxiety among the farmers who are afraid that the wolves will attack their livestock. Inti and Aggie live together, Aggie has some mental problems. This is all a bit hazy but is explained later in the book. The novel moves between the present, their lives growing up, and Alaska, the last place where Inti worked, but then chose to leave. The reasons for the move are revealed later in the novel. We are led through months of careful observation and sometimes intervention with their group of wolves. It’s thrilling when the wolves start to mate and form packs. They are collared and released into the wild. There are a host of other interesting characters, some you will like, some you will loathe. There is even a romance to add to the mix, but totally believable!! There is some very graphic violence in this novel, both upon animals and humans. At one point I felt as Inti did when she states “I SINK BACK ONTO THE FLOOR SO I WON’T SEE WHAT HAPPENS . . . .I HAVE TRULY HAD ENOUGH VIOLENCE FOR A THOUSAND LIFETIMES”. The descriptions of the forests and Highlands are exquisite!! This novel had me glued to the web looking for articles on wolves, Scottish Highlands, mirror-touch synesthesia, etc. Note: I listened to the audiobook for a large part of the novel but when my anxiety was getting high I switched to the physical ARC to finish the book. The violence can be hard to read about and even harder to listen to the narration. I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley. I received the audiobook from MacMillan audio through NetGalley. I highly recommend both! This novel is set to publish on August 3, 2021

  5. 5 out of 5

    JanB

    A story that is a combination of literary fiction and murder mystery, Inti is the leader of a team with the goal of reintroducing wolves into the Scottish Highlands. The wolf is a natural predator that keeps the ecosystem in balance, and they died out in Scotland in the 18th century. Inti arrives with fourteen gray wolves and her traumatized twin sister, Aggie, who she hopes will heal in her new environment. Inti has a condition called mirror touch synesthesia, where she literally feels the pain A story that is a combination of literary fiction and murder mystery, Inti is the leader of a team with the goal of reintroducing wolves into the Scottish Highlands. The wolf is a natural predator that keeps the ecosystem in balance, and they died out in Scotland in the 18th century. Inti arrives with fourteen gray wolves and her traumatized twin sister, Aggie, who she hopes will heal in her new environment. Inti has a condition called mirror touch synesthesia, where she literally feels the pain of others, and the reader is given all the grisly details of what that means. The details of her and her twin sister’s past emotional traumas slowly unfolds for the reader as the story alternates between past and present. The twins’ father was a naturalist who taught them to respect and appreciate nature, while their mother was a detective who taught them that humans are the real predators they should fear. We see both of those themes played out in these pages. I enjoyed the sections about the wolves. We discover what it is like to spend months tracking them through births and deaths, and the local resident’s distrust and fear of the wolves. But Inti’s work to gain the villager’s support is an uphill battle, especially after a brutal death they attribute to a wolf attack. While I appreciated the focus on the environment, even if heavy-handed, I didn’t care as much for the subplots. I thought the story would have stood well enough on its own without the murder mystery or romance. The angst and backstory of the twins was depressing, and I didn’t buy the fact that nearly every single man in Inti’s and Aggie’s orbit was abusive – what are the chances? There were too many topics introduced when a focus on the environmental concerns and the wolves would have been enough. Although I understood what the author was attempting to highlight, I was more invested in the plight of the wolves than the humans. So, for me, this was a very mixed bag. On the positive side, I spent quite a bit of time looking the subject up online, as there really is a movement to reintroduce the wolves into Scotland. The author has produced a highly atmospheric tale with some important themes but there’s something about her style that just doesn’t resonate with me as much as it does with other readers. There are plenty of glowing reviews, so do check them out. *Sensitive readers should be aware there are disturbing scenes of violence, both human and animal • I received a digital audio copy of this book via NetGalley. The narrator, Saskia Maarleveld, did an outstanding job.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    “Once There We’re Wolves”, was equally and as beautifully written as “Migrations”. Inti Flynn works with other biologists to rehabilitate the Gray Wolf into the Scottish Highlands with the intention and hope to renew the ecosystem which had been significantly altered with the loss of wolves. “Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with one goal: reintroduce wolves into the remote Highlands, where they haven’t stepped foot in hundreds of years. She is fiercely determined that nothing will distract her f “Once There We’re Wolves”, was equally and as beautifully written as “Migrations”. Inti Flynn works with other biologists to rehabilitate the Gray Wolf into the Scottish Highlands with the intention and hope to renew the ecosystem which had been significantly altered with the loss of wolves. “Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with one goal: reintroduce wolves into the remote Highlands, where they haven’t stepped foot in hundreds of years. She is fiercely determined that nothing will distract her from her work, but when she returns each night to her cottage, where her traumatized twin sister Aggie barely leaves her bed, Inti can’t help but remember the painful secrets that drove them out at Alaska and into this new life”. Her fragile piece is shattered when a farmer is mauled to death. Inti doesn’t believe the wolves did it but she doesn’t know who killed the farmer and will they strike again? A story of a woman desperate to save the creatures she loves— if she isn’t consumed by a wild that was once her refuge. “When we were eight, Dad Cut me open from throat to stomach”. “In a forest in the wilds of British Columbia sat his workshop, dusty and reeking of blood. He had skins hanging to dry and they brushed our foreheads as we crept through them. Hi shivered, even then, Aggie grinned devilishly ahead of me, bolder than me by far. After summers spent wishing to know what happened in this shed I was suddenly desperate to be gone from it”. “We hunt only what we need and we give back to the ecosystem, we grow food, too, we live as self-sufficiently as we can” “I would like to explain that if a wolf had killed a person, we would know. We would have found remains. Wolves don’t eat the stomachs at their kills. They crush bones but only to get to the marrow inside, which leaves shards. I can assure you, there would be something left for us to find. At the very least, blood, and a great deal of it”. “There is cruelty to survive, to fight against, but there is gentleness more than anything, our roots deep and entangled. That is what we hold inside, what we take with us, the way we look after each other”. Like with “Migrations”, readers feel the urgency to address the damage done to our planet …. Charlotte McConaghy’s storytelling is intimate. We come to know her characters well, while experiencing a powerful draw to protect and create balance in nature. Once again…this very passionate, one-of-a-kind, author: Charlotte McConaghy gives us a visceral, haunting, emotional story that allows us to deepen our understanding of the complexities between humans, (destruction humans cause), animals, and the natural world we share together. Intimate….with struggles, losses, triumphs….. “Once There Were Wolves” was poignant, brutal, beautiful, heartbreaking and hopeful! Basically…. OUTSTANDING! If you loved, “Migrations”, … you can’t go wrong with this book either.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Once There Were Wolves is an homage to nature. McConaghy’s lush descriptions of the forests and wildlife were magical. I was quickly drawn into this atmospheric story. The book details an effort to bring back wolves to the Scottish Highlands. Needless to say, the local farmers are not in favor. A wolf is quickly killed. Battle lines are drawn and Inti makes a decision to protect her wolves which might entail allowing someone to get away with murder. Inti Flynn is one of the most unique main cha Once There Were Wolves is an homage to nature. McConaghy’s lush descriptions of the forests and wildlife were magical. I was quickly drawn into this atmospheric story. The book details an effort to bring back wolves to the Scottish Highlands. Needless to say, the local farmers are not in favor. A wolf is quickly killed. Battle lines are drawn and Inti makes a decision to protect her wolves which might entail allowing someone to get away with murder. Inti Flynn is one of the most unique main characters I’ve ever met. She has a condition called mirror touch synesthesia, which means she literally feels what others experience. If you cut yourself, she would feel your pain. And her parents were so different and imparted such different lessons to her, it’s amazing she doesn’t have a split personality. The story flips back and forth between present day and Inti’s earlier life. Inti’s twin sister Aggie suffered from some event that has left her damaged and unable to speak. Often I find these split stories have a stronger half and a weaker half. Not here. I was equally engaged by both. I enjoyed McConaghy’s prior book, Migrations, but I loved this one. I found this a much tauter, more suspenseful story. Once again, she tackles climate change and the damage man has done to the planet. But she brings it down to a very individual level; one small effort to repair that damage. Her writing is lush, it was easy to see every scene play out. Saskia Maarleveld is the narrator and I was very impressed with her emotions and her ability to distinguish between the various accents.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    The writing is as beautiful as I found in Migrations, as is the sense of urgency to save the environment, for the characters to salvage their lives. This is a vivid depiction that doesn’t feel like preaching; the imperative message is blended with the fictional story of a compelling character as it was in McConaghy’s previous novel. Inti Flynn (what a fabulous name! ) is a wolf biologist who has come to Scotland with a team of scientists to rewild the wolf. My understanding of the importance of The writing is as beautiful as I found in Migrations, as is the sense of urgency to save the environment, for the characters to salvage their lives. This is a vivid depiction that doesn’t feel like preaching; the imperative message is blended with the fictional story of a compelling character as it was in McConaghy’s previous novel. Inti Flynn (what a fabulous name! ) is a wolf biologist who has come to Scotland with a team of scientists to rewild the wolf. My understanding of the importance of wolves to the environment, to the ecosystem, to climate change was pretty much nil and I learned a lot. I also learned something about a condition known as Mirror-touch synesthesia, a condition that Inti has, which makes a person with it feel the same sensations of touch as the person they are looking at. Of course, I spent some time reading more about these things and found them both fascinating. This is a multi layered novel. There are the present day challenges that Inti confronts in her work with the wolves and trying to convince the people in the area who farm and raise livestock and are fearful of the wolves, that reentry is a good thing. She also cares for her twin sister, who has suffered a trauma that isn’t immediately revealed. We get a glimpse of the past, their childhood where they alternated time between her pragmatic police detective mother in Australia and their father, a former logger, a recluse, a “nearly mad” environmentalist in Canada . There’s a murder mystery (not my genre). There are romantic involvements and heavy themes such as physical and sexual abuse. There’s quite a bit of violence, which always disturbs me. However, I was so invested in Inti and her sister Aggie. I wanted to know more about what happened to them in their past and what would happen to them moving forward. I wanted to know what would happen to the wolves. In spite of the murder mystery and the violence, I couldn’t put this down. The strength for me in this novel is the writing, the clear and beautiful descriptions of the forest, of the emotions, both the sinister and the beautiful. Charlotte McConaghy is such a talented writer and while I loved Migrations more, I will continue to watch for what else she writes. I received an advanced copy of this book from Flatiron Books through Edelweiss.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I’ve read some polarizing reviews but I thought this was undeniably intense. And fascinating. Inti and her sister have arrived in Scotland running away from Alaska. We know it was traumatic as it has caused her sister to be almost mute. Inti is reintroducing wolves to this remote area in Scotland. But it isn’t welcomed by the farmers and a farmer is found dead. And so a mystery begins swaddled in the forests of the highlands. McConaghy has an knack for weaving nature through her descriptive style. I’ve read some polarizing reviews but I thought this was undeniably intense. And fascinating. Inti and her sister have arrived in Scotland running away from Alaska. We know it was traumatic as it has caused her sister to be almost mute. Inti is reintroducing wolves to this remote area in Scotland. But it isn’t welcomed by the farmers and a farmer is found dead. And so a mystery begins swaddled in the forests of the highlands. McConaghy has an knack for weaving nature through her descriptive style. I was transported with these beautiful creatures of awe. A nice tribute to the conservationists who work tirelessly and diligently to reintroduce wolves to our ecosystem. 4.25⭐️

  10. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    "Never assume anything with a wolf, she will always surprise you." If you have read the author’s previous book, Migrations, you know that her books focus on the environment and our impact on the environment. Her writing is eloquent, beautiful and awe inspiring. Inti Flynn is a wolf biologist who has arrived in Scotland with her team of biologists and fourteen grey wolves they are introducing to the Scottish Highlands. In doing so, she hopes to heal the dying landscape. Along with her team and "Never assume anything with a wolf, she will always surprise you." If you have read the author’s previous book, Migrations, you know that her books focus on the environment and our impact on the environment. Her writing is eloquent, beautiful and awe inspiring. Inti Flynn is a wolf biologist who has arrived in Scotland with her team of biologists and fourteen grey wolves they are introducing to the Scottish Highlands. In doing so, she hopes to heal the dying landscape. Along with her team and the wolves, she has also brought her twin sisters, Aggie. They have left Alaska after something terrible happened which resulted in Aggie not speaking or caring for herself properly. Inti is an interesting character as she has Mirror-touch synesthesia. Her brain re-creates the sensory experiences of living creatures – people and sometimes animals. If she can see it, she can feel it. She can feel their pain, their pleasure and everything in between. "You don't hunt wolves. You hunt their prey." Inti knows what she will be up against, and she is right. The locals do not take kindly to wolves being introduced. They have made it abundantly clear where they stand. They will shoot to kill any wolves that threaten their livestock. Inti hopes that she and her wolves can change their minds. Wolves have been shown to save environments. She informs them that predators are critical for healthy ecosystems. They keep other species in check thus guaranteeing that a great variety of species survive. "The world is hard on wolves; if they don't die by illness or starvation, if they are not killed in fights with other packs or in some disastrous accident, they are shot by humans." Inti meets the local sheriff; Duncan MacTavish and they begin to spend time together. Their attraction is palpable. As the wolves begin to flourish, mate and bear young, Inti makes a rash decision after she makes a startling discovery – a dead body. Could the wolves be responsible? She knows the farmers will jump to this conclusion. If the wolves did not kill the man, then who and why? Could the murderer be someone she has growing feelings for? "You must know monsters well, wolf girl." This book has a lot going on and yet, it is never confusing and the subp0lots do not bog down this amazing book. The book takes place in the present time and gives glimpses into the past. In the past, we see Inti and Aggie being raised quite differently by their mother and father. Their mother is a dedicated police officer in Australia and their father lives in the forest in Canada. He engrains in them to take care of the environment, to take only what you need, not to make waste, and to care for the land. Their mother teaches them about hard work, how to survive in the world and tells Inti she needs to be tough. We are witness to the close bond of the sisters, their childhood and what occurred which resulted in them leaving Alaska. "All creatures know love." The descriptions in this book are lush and vivid. There are some difficult scenes including both humans and wolves. There are also some very beautiful scenes. The forest and wolf scenes have an atmospheric feel to them. I loved reading about the beauty of the land and the wolves flourishing, mating, and forming packs. The humans were a little bit of a mess. The humans were flawed, tough, endearing, some likeable, some very unlikeable. But it took all of them to make this truly beautiful book. I thoroughly enjoyed Migrations, but this book knocked my socks off! I was blown away by the McConaghy’s beautiful writing, vivid descriptions and her chosen setting. As I mentioned at the beginning of my review, her books focus on the environment, but I never feel as if she is beating me over the head with her viewpoints. This book is so many things – it’s a mystery, it’s a romance, its about survival, it’s about the environment and resiliency. It's moving, thought provoking and such a rewarding read! If you have not read Charlotte McConaghy before, I highly recommend her books especially this one! Beautifully written, atmospheric and thought provoking! A MUST READ! Thank you to Flatiron Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  11. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    “When we were eight, Dad cut me open from throat to stomach.” How’s that for a crazy opening line? It stopped me in my tracks, like it was supposed to. We soon learn that Inti, the person telling the story, has a medical condition called mirror-touch synesthesia, which means that if she is watching another person or animal, she literally, and simultaneously, feels what they are feeling. Her dad had just killed a rabbit and she was watching. (All of us proud empathizers who say “I feel your pain” “When we were eight, Dad cut me open from throat to stomach.” How’s that for a crazy opening line? It stopped me in my tracks, like it was supposed to. We soon learn that Inti, the person telling the story, has a medical condition called mirror-touch synesthesia, which means that if she is watching another person or animal, she literally, and simultaneously, feels what they are feeling. Her dad had just killed a rabbit and she was watching. (All of us proud empathizers who say “I feel your pain” are sort of full of it. Only Inti can say it and mean it, lol.) Despite that wild opener, I went into this book with the breaks on, trying not to get my hopes up. The author’s book, Migrations, is an all-time favorite. It’s an impossible act to follow; it has that special magic that comes only once in a long while. What will be the verdict for this book? Well, I will say that I didn’t love it quite as much as Migrations, but it’s still, undeniably, a 5-star read. I can’t stop thinking about it! Wolves fill my mind! And it brought back a memory of when our family was at a wildlife refuge, looking at gorgeous wolves. My youngest was maybe 7, and she smiled away at a gray wolf who we all projected was smiling back. Ah, so cute, maybe they could be friends someday (joking, of course, but we were certainly in a mutual-admiration situation, we thought). Suddenly the docent says, “He wants to eat you for lunch.” Well, THAT sure bummed us out—broke my daughter’s heart; all of our hearts, in fact. No self-respecting mom wants to think of her little darling as wolf chow! The docent should have kept her mouth shut. How did she know the wolf wanted to eat my baby? Don’t they feed the wolves enough at that joint? Oops, back to business: The reason I loved the book a little less is that there is a fair amount of animal violence and death. None of it is gratuitous, but I wish there hadn’t been so much. I just get too upset when an animal is injured or killed. Does me in. Hell, I still have PTSD from watching Old Yeller six decades ago. So the animal violence made me enjoy the book less, I can’t help it. There were numerous scenes that made me squirm (not in a good way) and made me fret and even cry. Although McConaghy doesn’t let us get too attached to the individual wolves, like I did to Old Yeller, we do get to know them a little because the scientists give them numbers as names. (I’ll remember Number Ten, I just will.) The tracking and observation of the wolves, and tales of their life, habits, and devotion to each other, captivated me, as it will any animal lover. One thing that blew my mind was learning that wolves pass down memories. Isn’t that the wildest thing you’ve ever heard? Inti is the lead researcher in a group of scientists who have just reintroduced wolves into the remote forests of Scotland, in the hopes of helping the ecology and saving the species. Inti is passionate about conservation and animals, and her love is contagious. (Could I go to Scotland and study wolves when I grow up, please?) The locals who run sheep farms of course aren’t happy about it, and conflict ensues. Like the main character in Migrations, the main character here is one strong woman. She is intense, flawed, introspective, and kind, and she never gives up. I like how she always wonders whether she has done the right thing or whether she has made matters worse. She doesn’t cut herself much slack. She has to make really hard decisions, and you feel her distress over what’s the right thing to do. Some of the choices are ones that no one wants to have to make. She faces the problems and acts heroically. (I’d want to run and hide under the covers.) McConaghy knows how to create a complex character, one that you’ll grow to love. I will say that the main character in Migrations and the one in this book seem like the same person. This bothers me; would have been more impressive if they hadn’t been so similar. Is McConaghy a one-character wonder? Because I loved both books and the main characters so much, I’m giving her a pass. Inti has an identical twin, Aggie, who has some problems. It’s all very mysterious at first—are the problems just mental or are they physical as well? Inti takes care of Aggie, and their sister-love is touching. We gradually learn about the traumatic events that caused Aggie to be the way she is. McConaghy weaves in the past story seamlessly, never sacrificing the perfect pace that she set up in the present-day story. This book seems to have everything. It’s full of action, which kept the tension going (and made it a fast read). It’s atmospheric as hell, and it has great language and characters. There are tales of abuse, and there’s a mystery and even romance. Sadness abounds but so does hope. An added bonus is that we get to learn about that beautiful creature, the wolf. Oh, and let’s not forget the giant, heart-wrenching surprise at the end; I can’t imagine anyone could see it coming. Even though the book is jam-packed with all the aspects of great storytelling, it never feels like it’s overdone or crowded. It’s a story you get immersed in and one where you are so rooting for the good guys, including the wolves. I loved this book and won’t forget it anytime soon. I know a book is great when I find myself heading to Google. I HAD to look up author interviews, wolves, mirror-touch synesthesia, and the hours of the wildlife refuge I visited decades ago. Hopefully, by now, the mouthy docent will be gone. Needless to say, I’ll follow McConaghy anywhere. Thanks to Edelweiss for the advance copy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    Inti Flynn and her twin sister Aggie grew up living one life and lifestyle with their father, a life surrounded by nature, and lessons to be shared about the beauty, and hazards, found within. When they were with their mother, it was a completely different life, and the lessons learned were darker ones about the hazards of life, and the darker nature of man. When she was too young to really understand, her mother explained that she needed to be more careful than most, as she suffers from mirror- Inti Flynn and her twin sister Aggie grew up living one life and lifestyle with their father, a life surrounded by nature, and lessons to be shared about the beauty, and hazards, found within. When they were with their mother, it was a completely different life, and the lessons learned were darker ones about the hazards of life, and the darker nature of man. When she was too young to really understand, her mother explained that she needed to be more careful than most, as she suffers from mirror-touch synesthesia, which causes her to feel the sensations of another being touched. Or hurt. These lessons would serve her well in their new life, as Inti and Aggie have left Alaska and arrived in Scotland, where Inti will be working with a group of biologists. Their goal is to reintroduce gray wolves into the outlying Highlands in order to bring back the necessary combination of wildlife which will improve the ecology of the land. Land which has suffered under man’s abuse. Inti has been taught about the nature of man to abuse, her mother worked with victims of abuse, and shared some of her wisdom on the topic. She’s also seen enough to be cautious of the nature of humans, their desire to destroy the world around them without regard for the repercussions, as well as their need to dominate. In this area largely dominated by farms and farmers, there are many members who aren’t happy, worried about their sheep, their farms, their livelihood. Meetings in town let her know that she and the wolves aren’t welcome. And then, she witnesses a miracle, a pair of the wolves have mated. The first in hundreds of years in Scotland. Hope fills her, and she begins to allow herself to open up and have hope, believe in herself and this journey she is on. I fell into this story all over again, listening to audiobook version of Charlotte McConaghy's Once There Were Wolves, perfectly narrated by Saskia Maarleveld, added another element to the story for me. Listening to her share this story really brought it to life for me in the best way. As in her Migrations, the writing is gorgeous, the setting atmospheric, the story is one that will haunt you - enchanting at times, gripping at others. It will undoubtedly tug at your emotions, and ultimately leave you wishing you could stay inside these pages just a little longer. Pub Date: 03 Aug 2021 Many thanks for the Audio ARC provided by Macmillan Audio

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    This book broke me into a thousand pieces and slowly put me back together! It took me awhile to get into this story, but once I was pulled in, I was lost until the very end. A book with that much power deserves all the stars! Charlotte McConaghy writes a beautiful, tragic story. Her writing creates a vivid picture you won't soon forget. This is a story of love, loss, domestic abuse, love of nature and all God's creatures. Delivered with poetic prose. This book broke me into a thousand pieces and slowly put me back together! It took me awhile to get into this story, but once I was pulled in, I was lost until the very end. A book with that much power deserves all the stars! Charlotte McConaghy writes a beautiful, tragic story. Her writing creates a vivid picture you won't soon forget. This is a story of love, loss, domestic abuse, love of nature and all God's creatures. Delivered with poetic prose.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Fran

    **PUBLICATION DAY** As a logger-turned-forest-dwelling-naturalist, Inti and Aggie Flynn's father taught his twin daughters to hunt only what was needed for subsistence living, to grow their own food, to use every part of an animal after paying their respects and the importance of giving back to the ecosystem. He taught them the signs animals left; their prints and behavior patterns. Such excitement! Inti saw her first wolf! "You can't track wolves. You leave them be. They are cleverer than we are **PUBLICATION DAY** As a logger-turned-forest-dwelling-naturalist, Inti and Aggie Flynn's father taught his twin daughters to hunt only what was needed for subsistence living, to grow their own food, to use every part of an animal after paying their respects and the importance of giving back to the ecosystem. He taught them the signs animals left; their prints and behavior patterns. Such excitement! Inti saw her first wolf! "You can't track wolves. You leave them be. They are cleverer than we are. So instead you track its prey." Such was life with father in British Columbia. Mum was "a city-bound-gritty-crime-detective in Sidney. Mum took the girls to her court cases "to witness the absolute worst in people...that people were for the most part, irredeemable." According to Mum, worrying about trees was not a good way to spend one's energy. Mum didn't know the whole truth about what happened in Alaska...why Aggie had bouts of silence...had turned inward. "[Inti] had become brash, defiant, fierce...Aggie and [Inti] must have switched places and forgotten to switch back...[Aggie] was always meant to be the stronger of us." Inti Flynn was now a biologist leading a team set to re-introduce wolves to the remote Scottish Highlands. To Inti, "the forest has a beating heart we can't see...trees speak with and care for each other...They whisper to each other through their roots. They warn of danger and they share sustenance." Wolves roamed the Scottish Highlands centuries ago. It was hoped that the re-introduction of these predators could cull the deer population and allow for the natural growth of plants and vegetation. Cairngorms National Park became home to fourteen gray wolves housed in three acclimation pens. Yellowstone National Park had launched a seemingly successful experimental project. "If there is any one thing I know best about wolves...it's that they adapt." "The chance of a person getting attacked by a wolf is almost nonexistent...This is a shy, family-oriented, gentle creature." Rewilding presented a threat to the local farmers and landowners who determined that their livelihood would be impacted and their way of life would change. "If one of those wolves takes a bite out of a single one of my sheep...I won't stop until I have hunted down every last one of them." Duncan McTavish, police chief, was treated to an audio file of an ecosystem in balance...the sounds of wolves whispering-two separate packs speaking to each other...something shifted in the space between [Duncan and Inti]". Inti felt deeply. "I am unlike most people...with an entirely unique understanding of touch-a neurological condition-mirror-touch synthesis...if I see it, I feel it...". I inhabit the body of the wolf or the human, feel what they are feeling. Mysteries abound....a dead body...a dead wolf...what caused Inti's sister to be silent and homebound? "Once There Were Wolves" by Charlotte McConaghy is a work of historical fiction that addresses a multitude of issues which include reforestation, emotional and physical abuse and the plight of endangered species. Seen through Inti's eyes, perhaps acts of kindness like that of the white wolf's pack will create a gentler world. Highly recommended. Thank you Flatiron Books and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    [4.5] Vivid and stunning, this novel catapulted me to the forests of Scotland. I will never view wolves the same way again! McConaghy has the rare gift of making me want to linger over every word even when I'm desperate to find out what happens next. It didn't quite move me as Migrations did, but a marvelous, mighty novel. [4.5] Vivid and stunning, this novel catapulted me to the forests of Scotland. I will never view wolves the same way again! McConaghy has the rare gift of making me want to linger over every word even when I'm desperate to find out what happens next. It didn't quite move me as Migrations did, but a marvelous, mighty novel.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    So good! Just as in Migrations, the writing is beautiful. This time the setting is the Scottish Highlands.. Inti Flynn, a biologist, is traveling there with her twin sister Aggie, and a team of colleagues to work on reintroducing wolves to the ecosystem.which will promote reforestation after the lumber industry has cleared out the forests. It’s a gripping tale, with a mystery too.. great characters! I enjoyed both the story of the wolves , but also the background and current story of the twin siste So good! Just as in Migrations, the writing is beautiful. This time the setting is the Scottish Highlands.. Inti Flynn, a biologist, is traveling there with her twin sister Aggie, and a team of colleagues to work on reintroducing wolves to the ecosystem.which will promote reforestation after the lumber industry has cleared out the forests. It’s a gripping tale, with a mystery too.. great characters! I enjoyed both the story of the wolves , but also the background and current story of the twin sisters. I also very much enjoyed being in the Highlands for awhile.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Straight to my favorites shelf. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ This is a first, or the first in a long while. I select books from Book of the Month every single month, and I actually started reading this book the month I bought it. The reason? I’m usually a delayed gratification reader. That said, I read Migrations in July, and it’s probably my book of the year. Once There Were Wolves is a very close second. I love the way Charlotte McConaghey writes. It’s precise with perfect flow. She builds an atmosphere with Straight to my favorites shelf. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ This is a first, or the first in a long while. I select books from Book of the Month every single month, and I actually started reading this book the month I bought it. The reason? I’m usually a delayed gratification reader. That said, I read Migrations in July, and it’s probably my book of the year. Once There Were Wolves is a very close second. I love the way Charlotte McConaghey writes. It’s precise with perfect flow. She builds an atmosphere with ease. Each story starts out with tension and a mystery that builds better than any traditional psychological thriller. But even more than all of that, and that is, even though my dad would say this is a horrible word choice I’m going to use it any way 😂, A LOT, I adore the issues she writes about. Animal advocacy and the environment are critical to her stories. As if it couldn’t get any better, her complex characterization is the icing on the cake for me. Both books have featured strong female main characters with pasts filled with secrets. Each is vulnerable, fierce, and filled with goodness, making it easy to care about them, even if they aren’t perfect people. Once There Were Wolves is the factionalized account of a project to reintroduce wolves to Scotland. I WISH this happened in real life, but sadly, it has not. It has happened in at least one other location, Yellowstone Park in the US. I’ve been to Denali National Park in Alaska to view wildlife and the lush landscape, and there’s a list of the animals you most want to see. The most elusive sighting is the gray wolf. We viewed our share of wildlife, but sadly, no wolf. As it turns out, and what I learned from this book, is that wolves are a critical part of the chain needed for many ecosystems to thrive and work how they are supposed to. But yet, here in my state of North Carolina, the gray wolf has been “gone” for over 100 years. (We do have the only population in the world of nearly extinct red wolves, though.) As is the case with many books, this sparked my interest in learning more about wolf conservation efforts, especially those more local to me involving the red wolves. Like I said, though, wolves and whether the Scotland project is successful, isn’t all that this book is about. It’s also about Inti and her sister, their special bond, about healing from past trauma, hiding secrets, and there’s a love story that slowly develops in the background. It’s also about solving the mystery of who killed a man. I loved this book so much. Thank you to Beth for buddy reading it with me. I hope McConaghey has many, many more stories to share. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susanne Strong

    Review posted on blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend... A story of love, if there ever was one. Love of nature, vivid and true. The love between sisters, family, and friends and a love and respect for animals. Inti has a deep and abiding connection to many things, her sister Aggie, the wolves, and nature. This is partially due to Mirror-Touch Synesthesia, a condition that Inti suffers from, where she often feels sensations (such as pain) on her own body when viewing pain to others inc Review posted on blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend... A story of love, if there ever was one. Love of nature, vivid and true. The love between sisters, family, and friends and a love and respect for animals. Inti has a deep and abiding connection to many things, her sister Aggie, the wolves, and nature. This is partially due to Mirror-Touch Synesthesia, a condition that Inti suffers from, where she often feels sensations (such as pain) on her own body when viewing pain to others including animals. As a biologist, Inti re-introduces wolves to the Highlands in Scotland to help them and the surrounding area. She also hopes to help her sister, who has been unwell for quite some time. Upon integrating the wolves, and becoming acclimated, tragedy strikes, and Inti works to figure out who is to blame. Environmental fiction, wrapped into a suspense, rolled into a romance, “Once There Were Wolves” is a book about human nature, wolf packs, life lessons, and survival. While I liked this book and enjoyed the writing, I admittedly liked this author’s prior book Migrations, a bit more.. perhaps because I felt as though this book had a bit too much going on? I’m not quite sure. That said, the narration of this novel, done by Saskia Maarleveld, was brilliant and made the book that much better for me. There are other reviewers out there that liked this one a tad more than me thus I urge you to check out their reviews. Thank you to NetGalley, MacMillan Audio, and Saskia Maarleveld for the alc. Published on Goodreads and Twitter.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Wolves don't wander. They move with purpose. Charlotte McConaghy creates a brilliant novel that, in definite contrast, leans into the perplexing attitude of humans......creatures who meander through life tasting aimlessly from proffered cups. And when the eventual flame is finally sparked, humans will pursue their wishes and desires relentlessly forcing naysayers aside at all costs. McConaghy introduces us to Inti Flynn and her twin sister, Aggie, born in Australia and raised in the forests of Br Wolves don't wander. They move with purpose. Charlotte McConaghy creates a brilliant novel that, in definite contrast, leans into the perplexing attitude of humans......creatures who meander through life tasting aimlessly from proffered cups. And when the eventual flame is finally sparked, humans will pursue their wishes and desires relentlessly forcing naysayers aside at all costs. McConaghy introduces us to Inti Flynn and her twin sister, Aggie, born in Australia and raised in the forests of British Columbia. The twins spent most of their time with their father in the forests following his rule of subsistence: Hunt only what you need and then give back to the ecosystem in return. Inti later became a biologist while Aggie excelled in languages. Inti's latest assignment is the rewilding of wolves in the remote Highlands of Scotland where the animals had not existed for hundreds of years. Even Mary Queen of Scots had hunted wolves for sport. The world has been hard on wolves eradicating their numbers due to starvation, illness, fights, and mostly being hunted down by humans. Aggie accompanies Inti to Scotland as well. McConaghy hints at a severe situation that caused Inti and Aggie to leave their prior assignment in Alaska under some questionable circumstances. As readers, we sense something heavy took place, but McConaghy isn't about to show her cards yet. As Inti and her team members of Wolf Trust settle into the Highlands, they are met with resistance from the local farmers and sheep herders. Even though a prior project was successful in Yellowstone National Park in America, the landowners are highly skeptical and Inti feels their threats and accusations. When a local man goes missing, the town fears the worse. Inti starts to have doubts herself about which direction this experiment is going. But she stands firmly with the 14 grey wolves brought onto this land. Determination...... like a lit match. Charlotte McConaghy gifted us with her prior novel, Migrations, which still stands as one of my favorite reads. Once There Were Wolves crosses back and forth into the gray areas of tolerance and acceptance in both the animal and in the human world. McConaghy does a superb job of keeping her finger on the pulse of what drives us to persevere under the most dire of circumstances. Just how far will we go to protect me and mine? Raw, graphic at times, and brutally honest, Once There Were Wolves speaks to a truth that we sometimes deny to even our own selves. Simply outstanding. I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Flatiron Books and to the talented Charlotte McConaghy for the opportunity.

  20. 5 out of 5

    karen

    this woman made me love a book about birds. i cannot wait to see what she does with WOLVES!! want want want want want want wantwantwantwant

  21. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    “As societies have lost their connection and place within the natural world, people have sought connection and fulfilment via abstract ideas, such as religion, science, technology, adulation of celebrity, etc. In using these ideas and their high priests to mediate our connection to life, or seeking experience through virtual reality, we relinquish our own birth right to direct raw experience – this is the end game of domestication.” Simon Ayres My parents used to take my sister and me on hi “As societies have lost their connection and place within the natural world, people have sought connection and fulfilment via abstract ideas, such as religion, science, technology, adulation of celebrity, etc. In using these ideas and their high priests to mediate our connection to life, or seeking experience through virtual reality, we relinquish our own birth right to direct raw experience – this is the end game of domestication.” Simon Ayres My parents used to take my sister and me on hikes, picnics in the woods, blackberry picking in dense off road thickets, and swimming in Elk Creek. They taught us to love the woods, to appreciate the thick silence of trees and the sweet companionship of spending time together under nature’s canopy. In ‘Once There Were Wolves,’ Charlotte McConaghy laments a world gone wrong, a world set apart from nature. Inti Flynn’s father tells her that perhaps the world can be made right if only humanity could find a way to rewild themselves. Even though Inti is deeply connected to nature through her love of the wolves she and her team of biologists are reintroducing in the Scottish Highlands, she has been wounded by events from her past that have left her distrustful of people. When she meets Duncan, the local police chief, she tries to figure out whether he “is a good man.” She thinks he is, but her belief that Duncan could have a hidden side threatens their relationship. Inti has mirror touch synesthesia, which means that when Inti observes the experiences of animals and people, she also feels them. If they feel pain, Inti experiences their pain. This intensifies her connection with the wolves and with her twin sister, Aggie. McConaghy’s descriptions of the wolves are vivid and breathtaking, their mannerisms, their beauty and power, and their distinct personalities. In the acknowledgements, she pays homage to the 1995 Yellowstone National Park project when wolves were reintroduced to the park. McConaghy’s writing touched my heart. She creates a lush history between Inti and her twin sister, Aggie, their mother, a detective, and their dad, who lives in the forests of Alaska. Inti’s Dad reminded me of my own but my Dad was a southern country boy who worked in the furniture factory all his life, but loved the woods and knew the names of all the trees. My Dad passed away in 2014, but in those last few pages, I met him in Inti’s woods, once again. It’s wonderful how books will let you have an experience like that. McConaghy’s themes of empathy and rewilding are big and necessary ones. *This novel contains descriptions of physical and sexual abuse. **An article on human rewilding: https://www.cambrianwildwood.org/huma...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    I know, only three stars! How can that be? It’s of course a personal choice but I dislike stories that try to beat me over the head with messages. While I did enjoy the Wolf parts, it was some of the other issues that I didn’t. I am not going to go into those but it always bothers me when the creation of a new human life is treated like one wants to throw away a piece of garbage. While I do believe that woman have a right to make decisions, I think for so many, it’s an agonizing decision, one tha I know, only three stars! How can that be? It’s of course a personal choice but I dislike stories that try to beat me over the head with messages. While I did enjoy the Wolf parts, it was some of the other issues that I didn’t. I am not going to go into those but it always bothers me when the creation of a new human life is treated like one wants to throw away a piece of garbage. While I do believe that woman have a right to make decisions, I think for so many, it’s an agonizing decision, one that takes courage and lots of soul searching to know what you chose to do is right. I also think the author crammed too much into the telling, plus I knew whodunnit before the 50% Mark. I was expecting too much once again after seeing so many glowing reviews. Once again, it’s interesting to see a difference in how we all perceive a story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

    This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. You know that feeling when you are so excited about something but also apprehensive because the disappointment could be crushing? I felt that. I shouldn't have worried. At the centre of this story is Inti Flynn, who's moved to Scottland to relocate, introduce wolves to the Northern forests. She's accompanied by her identical sister, Aggie, who's become a recluse/agoraphobe due to trauma. Speaking of trauma, many of this novel's characters see This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. You know that feeling when you are so excited about something but also apprehensive because the disappointment could be crushing? I felt that. I shouldn't have worried. At the centre of this story is Inti Flynn, who's moved to Scottland to relocate, introduce wolves to the Northern forests. She's accompanied by her identical sister, Aggie, who's become a recluse/agoraphobe due to trauma. Speaking of trauma, many of this novel's characters seemed to have been affected by trauma, the kind inflicted by men who abuse, and kill, women and children. McConaghy's writing, and Saskia Maarleveld's wonderful narration, gave this novel a dreamlike feel. Those who enjoy some suspense/mystery will appreciate those elements as well. I was impressed with how McConaghy combined trauma, animal conservation, and relationships into Once There Were Wolves I'm looking forward to reading McConaghy's third adult fiction novel.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy was a beautifully written book set in the wild Scottish Highlands where many sheep farmers existed. Charlotte McConaghy’s talents shone through once again. She was able to combine a good murder mystery with the good intentions and influences of a small group of biologists. The group of biologists were trying to balance and improve the ecosystem by reintroducing 14 gray wolves back into the remote Highlands. Unfortunately, they were met with great opp Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy was a beautifully written book set in the wild Scottish Highlands where many sheep farmers existed. Charlotte McConaghy’s talents shone through once again. She was able to combine a good murder mystery with the good intentions and influences of a small group of biologists. The group of biologists were trying to balance and improve the ecosystem by reintroducing 14 gray wolves back into the remote Highlands. Unfortunately, they were met with great opposition from the over abundance of skeptical and fearful sheep farmers. The biologists believed that this was the solution to restoring order to the world’s ecosystem and they were determined to see it through despite the opposition. Twin sisters, Inti Flynn and Aggie Flynn were born in Australia. Inti arrived in the Scottish Highlands as the leader of the group of biologists she headed. She was accompanied by her twin sister, Aggie, who for undisclosed reasons was broken. Aggie could no longer find her voice or venture from the safety of the cabin she shared with Inti. She was totally reliant on her twin sister for all her basic necessities. Something terrible made Inti and Aggie have to leave Alaska so abruptly and jump into this new endeavor. Inti was determined and committed to reintegrate gray wolves into the wild to save the ecosystem. Her secret hope was to also save her twin sister as well who was presently mute and very traumatized. Inti’s focus was steadfast until a farmer disappeared and was suspected to have become prey to the wolves she was responsible for. Inti knew in her heart that a wolf would not attack in the circumstances the farmers believed had happened. Although, Inti disliked this farmer that disappeared, she was determined to prove that her wolves had no part in his death. Once There Were Wolves was beautifully written and as memorable as Migrations. The characters in Once There Were Wolves were strong and complex and stayed with me long after I finished this book. I listened to the audiobook that was narrated by Saskia Maarleveld. Her performance was stellar. She easily transitioned from one character to the next and kept my attention throughout. Charlotte McConaghy was able to combine the elements of mystery, rape, romance, sisterly devotion, physical and emotional abuse of women, family drama, survival and hope in her newest book, Once There Were Wolves. She also was able to recapture the recurring theme of climate change and the damage humans had caused our planet. It was both heartbreaking and hopeful. I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook of Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy and I highly recommend it. Once There Were Wolves will be published on August 3, 2021. Thank you to Macmillan Audio for allowing me to listen to this audiobook through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    It’s been a while now since a book moved me to tears. But I cried unashamedly while reading Once There Were Wolves. I cried for the possibilities we let slip between our fingers and our inability to appreciate the wonder and interconnectedness of our beautiful world and I cried the loss of the natural order that, if respected, can lead to our own Eden here on Earth. The book focuses on Inti Flynn, who travels with her mute identical sister Aggie to rewild the remote Highlands of Scotland with wil It’s been a while now since a book moved me to tears. But I cried unashamedly while reading Once There Were Wolves. I cried for the possibilities we let slip between our fingers and our inability to appreciate the wonder and interconnectedness of our beautiful world and I cried the loss of the natural order that, if respected, can lead to our own Eden here on Earth. The book focuses on Inti Flynn, who travels with her mute identical sister Aggie to rewild the remote Highlands of Scotland with wild wolves. I normally roll my eyes at the plot introduction of identical twins—too often it is used by lazy writers to contrast one personality with another. But here, it works very well. Aggie is Inti’s shadow sister, and the true meaning of that designation will not be revealed until the very last pages. Suffice to say that the two of them are intricately connected and have been since they were toddlers. Inti has a condition called mirror touch synesthesia, which means her brain recreates and deeply feels the sensory experience of people and sometimes animals. Put another way, if someone is slapped, Inti will physically feel the sting. Inti is that most complex of creatures: a wolf biologist with powerful boundary issues, easy prey because of her sensitivity that must learn to be a predator and “become the thing I hunt and feel it all.” She is a protector that needs to be protected but refuses to acknowledge it. Her only true human contact is with her sister and with chief of police Duncan MacTavish, who is nursing his own inner pain. Charlotte McConnaghy knows her stuff. Readers will learn a lot about wolves—how they are birthed and how they hunt, how they communicate and in what circumstances they become killers. We learn about their fierce attachment to each other and how they survive—and why so many of them don’t. And we discover why saving the predators is the key to saving ourselves. The book doesn’t get preachy, although the author is clearly passionate about her subject. The comparisons of wolves to humans – that thin line between predator and prey, the ways we get consumed by what is wild within us—is breathtaking. I loved her former book Migrations but this one? It’s in a class by itself.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Hoover

    Once There Were Wolves. Think about the title. It alone stoked my imagination, shooting my anticipation of this book through the roof. And when I read the opening line in the prologue, I knew this book was going to be special. And special it is. Once There Were Wolves is a story about a wildlife biologist's quest to reintroduce gray wolves to the natural habitat in the Scotland Highlands where they were eradicated hundreds of years before, essentially dooming the environment. Inti Flynn and her t Once There Were Wolves. Think about the title. It alone stoked my imagination, shooting my anticipation of this book through the roof. And when I read the opening line in the prologue, I knew this book was going to be special. And special it is. Once There Were Wolves is a story about a wildlife biologist's quest to reintroduce gray wolves to the natural habitat in the Scotland Highlands where they were eradicated hundreds of years before, essentially dooming the environment. Inti Flynn and her team of wildlife biologists set out to prove that reintroducing wolves to the area will renew the ecosystem and allow the natural habitat to flourish once again. However, Inti's efforts to rebirth the area are met by stiff opposition from local farmers and sheep herders who fear for their safety and livelihood. When Inti Flynn left Alaska for the Wolf Trust project in Scotland, she brought her traumatized twin sister Aggie with her hoping to help her heal. Living with mirror touch synesthesia, Inti experiences others pain as it happens meaning she suffered the same horrific abuse that left her twin mostly mute and terrified of venturing out of the house. Life is settling in until a wolf is needlessly shot by a farmer, and Inti stumbles across a man's mutilated body. Knowing they will blame the wolves, she makes an ill-advised, spur of the moment decision that will prove disastrous. Did one of her wolves break pattern and kill the man? Or is a killer on the hunt in the Scottish Highlands? Inti works with the local sheriff with whom she's started a relationship to learn the truth. Once There Were Wolves is a brilliantly rendered, gut-wrenching journey into the lives of these characters including the wolves. The concept of reintroducing the wolves to help balance the inequities in nature is intriguing. McConaghy's extensive research is obvious but presented in a way that enhances the intense, highly atmospheric, multifaceted plot line. While the author's writing is complex, it feels simple - a natural flow of energy driven by the fast pace and the visceral anguish and sense of urgency suffered by Inti as she struggles to make the right decisions for all involved. At times, her psyche is as fragile as the barren environment, at other times as strong and wild as her beloved wolves. Inti's interaction with the wolves is breathtaking to witness, and I feel like I was a participant in the highly visual scenes with these powerful and yet fragile animals. This story touched my heart as much or maybe more than Migrations. Both books are priceless in terms of what the uniquely talented author delivers in a highly compassionate can't put the book down way. In Once There Were Wolves, McConaghy gifts readers with one of the best mysteries I've read in some time . . . one that stands out in a genre full of great books and writers. And she does so utilizing Inti's idiomatic voice, past/present chapters with flawed characters showcasing how the past affects the future - all the while pulling intertwining plot lines together in a shocking conclusion that left this reader stunned. Once There Were Wolves is a study of human nature and the many complexities of maneuvering a flawed world. It's a study of toxic relationships that reverberate throughout our lives, of learning to persevere and thrive under dire circumstances, of rebirth of one's self and nature. It's a raw, intense, haunting self portrait of life. It's a warning. Highly recommended to fans of mystery, suspense and heartfelt readers of great stories! Like Migrations, this one will reside in my heart a long time to come. Special thanks to Flatiron Books for an arc of the masterpiece! *Review first posted in Mystery & Suspense Magazine **Review posted at Cross My Heart Reviews

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    A brilliant story of the reintroduction of wolves to the Scottish Highlands. A favorite read for 2021. Fantastic audiobook. 5 out of 5 stars

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    Inti Flynn and her twin sister Aggie grew up living one life and lifestyle with their father, a life surrounded by nature, and lessons to be shared about the beauty, and hazards, found within. When they were with their mother, it was a completely different life, and the lessons learned were darker ones about the hazards of life, and the darker nature of man. When she was too young to really understand, her mother explained that she needed to be more careful than most, as she suffers from mirror- Inti Flynn and her twin sister Aggie grew up living one life and lifestyle with their father, a life surrounded by nature, and lessons to be shared about the beauty, and hazards, found within. When they were with their mother, it was a completely different life, and the lessons learned were darker ones about the hazards of life, and the darker nature of man. When she was too young to really understand, her mother explained that she needed to be more careful than most, as she suffers from mirror-touch synesthesia, which causes her to feel the sensations of another being touched. Or hurt. These lessons would serve her well in their new life, as Inti and Aggie have left Alaska and arrived in Scotland, where Inti will be working with a group of biologists. Their goal is to reintroduce gray wolves into the outlying Highlands in order to bring back the necessary combination of wildlife which will improve the ecology of the land. Land which has suffered under man’s abuse. Inti has been taught about the nature of man to abuse, her mother worked with victims of abuse, and shared some of her wisdom on the topic. She’s also seen enough to be cautious of the nature of humans, their desire to destroy the world around them without regard for the repercussions, as well as their need to dominate. In this area largely dominated by farms and farmers, there are many members who aren’t happy, worried about their sheep, their farms, their livelihood. Meetings in town let her know that she and the wolves aren’t welcome. And then, she witnesses a miracle, a pair of the wolves have mated. The first in hundreds of years in Scotland. Hope fills her, and she begins to allow herself to open up and have hope, believe in herself and this journey she is on. As in her Migrations, the writing is gorgeous, the setting atmospheric, the story is one that will haunt you - enchanting at times, gripping at others. It will undoubtedly tug at your emotions, and ultimately leave you wishing you could stay inside these pages just a little longer. Pub Date: 03 Aug 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Flatiron Books

  29. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    Once There Were Wolves , Charlotte McConaghy's latest novel, is a beautiful, haunting look at the destructive effects we can have on the environment and each other. In addition to being so beautifully written, Charlotte McConaghy’s books are tremendously thought-provoking. Her first book, Migrations , was among the best books I read last year and I won’t be surprised if this book makes this year’s list. It’s a time in the not-too-distant future when there are few wolves left in the world. In Once There Were Wolves , Charlotte McConaghy's latest novel, is a beautiful, haunting look at the destructive effects we can have on the environment and each other. In addition to being so beautifully written, Charlotte McConaghy’s books are tremendously thought-provoking. Her first book, Migrations , was among the best books I read last year and I won’t be surprised if this book makes this year’s list. It’s a time in the not-too-distant future when there are few wolves left in the world. Inti is part of a team of biologists who travel to the Scottish highlands to reintroduce 14 wolves into the wild. (Wolves are important to the ecosystem; without predators like them the deer population gets overgrown and they eat all the plants, meaning birds and insects needed to pollinate could go instinct.) The Scottish people are unhappy about the wolves as they understandably fear for their safety, but wolves don’t attack unless provoked. But when there is a death in town, Inti knows the wolves will be blamed, and she fights to defend them. Could she be wrong, or could it be worse—is there a killer on the loose? Inti has her own secrets and scars, which cause her to lash out impulsively at times. She also has something called mirror-touch synesthesia, which means that when she’s close to a person or thing, she can quite literally feel their pain. It’s a difficult way to live. The story flashes back between Inti’s childhood, her time in Alaska where things happened to her and her sister, and the present. This is a violent book at times and those triggered by discussions of rape and violence may find this troubling. The pacing of Once There Were Wolves is a little slow to start but it’s just such a gorgeous story of redemption and hope—for nature and for humans. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Left Coast Justin

    Birth, death, love, sex, murder, rape, fistfights....it's all here. Oh, and wolves. Wolves running loose in the Scottish Highlands, no less. And adorable puppies. Could it be any more romantic? I really loved the first half of this book -- McConaghy knows how to write suspenseful, meaningful stories. About halfway through, one of the main characters makes a dumb, dumb decision that you know is going to come back and bite him/her. So to speak. (Hey, this is a book about wolves.) This sets up a ter Birth, death, love, sex, murder, rape, fistfights....it's all here. Oh, and wolves. Wolves running loose in the Scottish Highlands, no less. And adorable puppies. Could it be any more romantic? I really loved the first half of this book -- McConaghy knows how to write suspenseful, meaningful stories. About halfway through, one of the main characters makes a dumb, dumb decision that you know is going to come back and bite him/her. So to speak. (Hey, this is a book about wolves.) This sets up a terrifically suspenseful second half that -- for me, at least -- was ruined by too much drama. The final chapters were like listening to a cymbal soloist for an hour straight. Maybe that's expected for novels of this sort -- why have one emotional peak when you can squeeze in five or six? And to the author's credit, any one of these stories was well-written, in and of itself. But I don't subscribe to the more-is-better school of reading, I'm afraid.

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