Avery Hood is a small town girl who lived most of her life hidden away in the woods with her parents. It's what she knows, where she belongs. She's attended the local high school for a year, having been home schooled to that point, and she's not very impressed. Then one night changes everything. Her parents are brutally murdered, and Avery was there. But all she remembers is a flash of inhumanly fast silver. She can't remember anything else, just the rivers of blood she was found coated in. Suddenly, school, and everything else, doesn't seem as important.
Then she meets Ben. The new boy in school who is beautiful and mysterious. He's arrived in Woodlake after his own personal tragedy. Avery is drawn to this beautiful boy, and he to her. It doesn't take her long to figure out he is a werewolf. There have been stories for decades about werewolves living in the forests surrounding Woodlake, and Avery isn't surprised to discover it's truth not fiction. She can't help trusting Ben as their bond deepens. Except, his eyes flash silver sometimes. Can she really trust this mysterious boy who's part wolf? Or does he know more about her parents murder than she does.
I'd really been looking forward to this book for a while. I first heard about it from Jessica over at A GREAT Read who was lucky enough to score an early copy of it. She loved it, and it being a werewolf book, made it a must have for me. I wasn't disappointed. I picked it up in the morning with the intention of just reading a few pages before getting some stuff done, and a few short hours later, I was finished. I barely put it down.
The final line of the blurb on the dust jacket: "Part murder mystery, part grief narrative, and part heart-stopping, headlong romance' sums the books themes up very nicely. It was an intense start, thrown right in to Avery's grief, her memories of the night her parents were killed, and it doesn't stop. It's beautifully written, a feeling of longing and loss throughout the book detailing simply and accurately the nature of grief and love. I couldn't put it down because I needed to know what happened to her parents as badly as she did, I needed to know the whole story with Ben.
The romance between Ben and Avery was sweet and enthralling. It happened pretty quickly, but not out of the blue and the depth of their bond, how it works, was an aspect I really liked. The chemistry between them was palpable, steamy, sweet and caring all at once. And yet, despite falling for this boy, Avery's thoughts are almost constantly on her parents. On what could have killed them. Trying to remember that night. Trying not to lose all she has left of them, their house, their land. She's having to live with her Grandma, who is a near stranger to her now after she and her son, Avery's father, fell out and stopped talking years ago. She lives closer to town, but still with forests around her giving Avery at least a little comfort, at times. I love the relationship between Avery and Renee, her Grandma. There is pain from their shared loss, pain from the separation from the old fall out, and worry and fear over Avery's safety. Because it looks like whatever killer her parents, would like to see her gone as well. It's beautifully played, painful and real.
The murder mystery aspect of the book was very nicely done as well. No junior CSI here. Avery wants the truth, but she's not hunting for it herself. She knows, feels, that she's in danger from the thing that killer her parents, but her only attempts to figure things out herself, is her trying to remember that night. But wanting, needing that truth was so well done as well. Never far from the surface and never dragging.
I loved this book from beginning to end. I was almost in tears for Avery several times with some of the things she faced and the rawness of her grief. Beautifully written, fantastic characters, and a great story. I only wish it was longer because at a little shy 250 pages, it was over far, far too quickly.
Odd side note: This hardback version is so pretty!! The images for the cover on Amazon/GoodReads/B&N etc. don't do it justice, they look flat. Which is why I'm using an image I took of the cover instead, because it gives a hint of how much better it looks in person. The background red is a deep foil, making the other colors really stand out. And inside? There are pretty red trees at the bottom of the pages and around the chapter numbers as well. So, so pretty.