The Wolf's Torment
by S. G. Cardin
(iUniverse / 0-595-41733-7 / June 2007 / 370 pages / $20.95)
This is the only book review at iUBR that was not requested by the author. I specifically asked the author if she wanted a review after I discovered The Wolf's Torment and researched both the author and the book. I did this simply because I am always looking for a good werewolf book, and this one looked promising. I had an intuitive feeling about the book and I was not at all disappointed. This is Miss Stephanie's fifth book, and you can view the others at her website. Her unusual variety of subject matter among the five releases reminds me a little of someone known as Tabitha.
The Wolf's Torment is a soap opera full of romance set in Moldavia during the mid-1860's. A young prince is just graduating from college in London when he is called back home by his father to prepare to rule the kingdom. His father is dying of syphilis he had contracted through a life full of mistresses and affairs. The young Prince Mihai has been betrothed since he was a boy to a princess from a neighboring kingdom. The first of Mihai's problems is that he is bringing his pregnant mistress with him to Moldavia. He had become best friends with a classmate in London, so he is taking Viktor with him to be his close aide and confidant. Prince Mihai marries Princess Theresa as planned, and Viktor marries a servant girl who works at the castle. Both couples go off on their separate honeymoons and excitement begins to happen. The understatement here is quite intentional, since I don't care to give away plot details in my reviews.
Ms. Cardin is a big soap opera fan, and the bubbles just keep on poppin' throughout The Wolf's Torment. Mihai's mom was a witch, as is all of Theresa's family. Viktor is more in love with Theresa than he is with his own wife, Sonia. Mihai cannot make up his mind what to do with his mistress on the side, and of course, Theresa loves Mihai's side order who never seems to vanish from their lives. Everybody wants a baby, so everybody works really hard at making babies. Did I mention the wolf pack? Did you know that werewolves smoked pot after coming down from an excursion under the full moon? A few vampires even make cameo appearances, but it's the werewolves and their witch mistresses who steal the show. This is not your traditional gothic horror story. There is some real innovation in the many subplots of S. G. Cardin's book, in which the reader becomes more entangled and fascinated than frightened by nightmares.
There are a few issues clawing the exquisite furniture of The Wolf's Torment. The error count is a little high, and these are nearly all the obvious result of incomplete proofing of the text, with misplaced and missing common words being the prevalent infraction. Most of the dialogue is a bit too simple and stilted, but I wonder if the author was simply trying to imitate the formal speech of the era. There are far too many short, declarative sentences, the overall effect of which is an amateurish compositional style. These issues taken together keep The Wolf's Torment from being declared as top dog, meaning that it is a four-star book and barely misses the brass ring as the best werewolf book I have ever read. The cover is outstanding, and even the laminated bookmarks Stephanie uses are the best example of the standard template supplied by iU that I have yet seen. She even uses printed ballpoint pens in her promotion, as I do. She has included a Prologue, Epilogue, and Question and Answer section in the book, too, adding to its complete, professional look. A six-page Deleted Scene has been tacked onto the end, too. Although this is an innovative idea, I would much rather the author had simply included it within the text. When I reach the end of a good novel with a surprising, striking ending such as the one in The Wolf's Torment, the reading of a tacked-on, mundane passage dulls the shock.
Stephanie Cardin has created a romance full of werewolves and witchcraft that excels with its plot twists and unusual storyline. I cannot say definitively that it is the best werewolf book I have ever read, but it is bitingly close. The story develops slowly. If you read only the opening chapters and do not continue, you will never know what a mistake you made. The Wolf's Torment is a tale of lust and deceit that you won't soon forget. Keep your silver bullets handy.
See Also: The B&N Review
The Authors Den Review
Stephanie Cardin's Website