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REVIEW: Castle of the Wolf by Sandra Schwab

Dear Ms. Schwab:

I remember when The Lily Brand was release in 2005 and many were shocked by its dark tones. I had to read it because it sounded different and back a few years ago, we weren’t really getting the variety that we have today. Like many dark books, in The Lily Brand once the redemption of the heroine occurred, the story began to lose some forward motion but I still anxiously awaited the next book because your voice was so interesting.

Unfortunately nothing came out and I confess to having forgotten about you until I received an email wondering if I would read Castle of the Wolf. Castle of the Wolf was written in a completely different tone than your previous effort. It still had dark overtones, but those were more gothic than horror in nature.

Celia is a 27 year old spinster who lived with her father, brother and brother’s wife. When her father dies, Celia’s sister in law becomes lady of the manor. Dorinda quickly makes it clear she views Celia as an unwanted drain on the family’s income and insinuates what Celia’s role in the household will be akin to the hired help.

During the reading of the will, Celia finds that her dear father has provided for her in the form of a castle in the Black Forest. Her father had purchased the castle from the Wolfenbach’s some 11 years ago when the Wolfenbach’s were in some kind of financial trouble. To provide for Celia and to return the castle to the Wolfenbach’s, the will proposes that Celia marry the unwed son.

Anything would be better than living with Dorinda and Celia is off to Castle Wolfenbach. The trouble is that the Castle comes with a very surly beast who just happens to the be the eldest son of the Wolfenbachs and an unwed one to boot. Fenris is an angry man who has lived in the Castle for the last 10 years or so by himself and a few retainers. Fenris has good reason to be angry. He went off to fight against Napoleon and for that brought shame upon his family. He came back from the war, disfigured and dishonored. His fiance abandoned him, as did most everyone but his family.

The very last thing he wants is to give up his sanctuary to some English miss. Her mere presence is a reminder of his youthful folly. Complicating this is Fenris sunny brother, Leopold, who is intent on charming Cissy as the will codicil didn’t say which brother she had to marry.

The characterizations are deft. Dorinda claims to have went to a French finishing school and tosses a few French words into her sentences to prove it.

. As the noveau baroness I have to inspire new confidence and hope in toutes les braves gens.”

When confronted by Fenris and his anger and poor treatment, Cissy doesn’t immediately fall in love like some romance misses. She responds quite normally, developing a healthy dislike for Fenris. There is a certain fairy tale quality to the story, even above and beyond the obvious theme of beauty and the beast. Perhaps it is the setting, deep in the black forest. Perhaps it is the hint of otherworldly elements embedded in the castle walls. Perhaps it is just the story itself of a poor and plain young woman taming the angry beast of a hurt young man.

It isn’t a perfect book by any means. I found some of the usage of ellipses and repetition to be tiresome. I didn’t really enjoy the brief chapter interludes as they were vague and somewhat melodramatic. The setting and atmospheric quality lent itself to a good read. B.

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

6 Comments

  1. Devon
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 18:53:53

    I want to read this for the Gothic overtones alone. I love Gothics and you just don’t see them all that often these days.

    I’m getting The Lily Brand as well. Somehow missed out on that one first time around.

    ReplyReply

  2. jaq
    Apr 23, 2007 @ 19:37:05

    Oooo, this sounds good. I’m a sucker for Beauty & the Beast themed romances.

    ReplyReply

  3. Sandra Schwab
    Apr 24, 2007 @ 08:57:58

    Jane, thanks so much for reading and reviewing Castle of the Wolf! I’m glad you enjoyed the novel! :)

    Yes, the tone of Castle is rather different from that of The Lily Brand, mainly because I was in a crappy mood when I wrote the latter. I had planned Castle as a really dark, dark, dark novel as well — but my Muse was apparently fed up with all the darkness, and the gothicness got stomped to dust (literally). (Moral: Don’t give your characters sturdy boots!)

    I’m happy to hear you detected a fairy tale quality in the story as this is exactly what I was aiming at: I was trying to recreate the atmosphere of German romantic fairy tales many of which Cissy reads in the course of the novel.

    The ellipses … ah well. If I’m not mistaken I actually cut several out during the last revisions. I guess I’ll need to beware of the dreaded ellipses in the future. :)

    Thanks again!

    ReplyReply

  4. Rosario
    Apr 24, 2007 @ 11:46:14

    That’s pretty much how I felt about it, too (putting my finishing touches on my own review here), and I also graded it a B. LOL, I’d forgotten about Dorinda’s French! That was great.

    ReplyReply

  5. Sandra Schwab
    Apr 24, 2007 @ 12:52:22

    Her bad French! *g* I’m glad to hear you’ve enjoyed it, too, Rosario!

    And Devon and jaq, I hope you’ll have fun in the Black Forest as well.

    ReplyReply

  6. The Good, The Bad and The Unread » Castle of the Wolf by Sandra Schwab **May 2007**
    Apr 29, 2007 @ 09:02:45

    [...] You can read an excerpt here and Dear Author has a review up here. [...]

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