The story of the wolf, the much maligned villain of fairytales, who finds himself trapped within a fairytale of his own, where he must undergo strange ordeals, battling against a brutal winter, men with guns and other creatures who would gladly see him dead, to finally face his greatest enemy: his own cherished nature of wild savagery.
And this also I love – the grey of a normal winter’s day, the darkening gloom of a covered sky, the snow threatening to fall as I pad on the dull white ground, climbing with it as it slopes upwards, rising onwards and higher until the woods and valleys appear in view around me, sunken and distant, greyed by the end of day. The ground flattens slightly and I lope forwards, and soon I am at the peak of a hill, the land all around me stretching dimly into the distant horizon, the hills and valleys a rolling sea of pale lifelessness. Far off the clouds are still broken, the sun bursting through with thick bars of light that form pools of brilliance among the gloom, but still do nothing to give life to the land crushed so brutally by this winter.
In spring and summer all this is green and blue and dotted with the bright colours of flowers, and everywhere is alive and moving and unafraid to be seen. But now everything is hiding, as if the land itself has put its head behind its wing like a bird, stopping the winter from looking in, making sure it cannot itself look out. I look over the myriad trees beneath me, white-specked grey trunks spiking from the white earth, wondering at the dull life locked so deeply away inside them, hoping to see a flicker of something else through their branches that might betray movement of some kind.
'Nothing this year approaches the sheer magic of Joseph Smith's daringly sophisticated first novel, which enters the mind of a starving wolf patrolling the harsh winter landscape.'
Irish Times, Literary Landmark of the Year 2008
'Smith hits a nerve - there's a bit of the wolf in all of us.'
Time Out Book of the Week
It's elegant, it's beautiful, it's savage, and there isn't a wasted word. If you like classy writing, you will love it.'
'It is a daring novel that achieves that most elusive of challenges - changing the world a little for the reader.'
Francesca Segal, The Observer
'A sort of prose poem, extremely well executed...A highly polished gem of a tale'
'Give that alpha male an alpha for eloquence.'
John Sutherland, The Telegraph