Reviewed by Rowena C. Ruiz
Wolf at the Door is a tale of two sisters: Jan and Marianne Xu. They belong to a family of shape shifting wolves who live in Singapore. Living peacefully and interacting with the human population, Jan Xu, the protagonist in the story, not only introduces us to the otherworldly denizens who live in the city, she also reveals to us that among the wolf clans there are those who are unable to change into wolf form. They are called the non-shifting ones. Marianne, Jan’s sister is such a one.
Damask’s wolves have a good grasp of their identity and exhibit a healthy outlook of life. They celebrate their differentness but do not consider themselves in anyway superior to others. They exercise caution when it comes to revealing their true selves but are not overly suspicious of others. They have accepted and adapted to living alongside humans and other beings that occupy this space and have form alliances and lasting relationships with them.
Another aspect which I find interesting in Damask’s work is the concept of becoming a werewolf. This happens only for non-shifting wolves and it is always a choice. Non-shifting wolves are not ostracized in wolf society. They are loved, accepted and encouraged to fulfill their true potential and given responsibilities and positions of trust in the clan hierarchy. The only prohibition for non-shifting wolves is that they cannot join in the wolf hunts that are held periodically. Thus to choose to force the change by becoming a werewolf is beyond the understanding of the wolves for not only does this bring great sorrow upon one’s family, there is also the negative impact on the whole community as well.
Damask’s book sets before us a challenge. How do we deal with those who in spite of our love and acceptance, still continue to feel left out and out of step with the rest of society? Is it possible to fully understand the issues that they grapple with every day? How well do we really know each other and if we did, how would we respond? These questions and more are the questions that Jan deals with as Marianne comes back to Singapore to visit their family. These too are questions that each of us must deal with when we interact with those closest to us.
I enjoyed reading this book, which I understand is the first of a series. It is a book about wolves and I found it not only to be interesting but refreshing to see that wolves living and experiencing life as we do in everyday life without all themystery and angst that usually accompanies books with shape-shifting themes . I look forward to reading more about Jan and her adventures as a wolf living in a human’s world.