Cover Image: Once There Were Wolves

Once There Were Wolves

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Member Reviews

Woah. This novel is beautifully-intense. With truly interesting details and turns, this is the story of a woman surviving in a world that is often violent and dangerous for women. I rooted for the protagonist from the beginning til the end and find myself holding my breath even now when I think of the character. All of it - the whole book - is A LOT.  For me, it was too much at times - and I live my life getting the biggest popcorn available at the movies knowing I won’t eat it all. But this was a lot. I kept telling myself to let go and just see the book’s many twists as symbolic representations of danger so many women face. Whew.  Book clubs - this is your book! Heartfelt thanks to Flatiron for the advanced copy. I’m grateful.
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This copy was an audiobook from Netgalley. 
The narration was very well done for a really good book. 
It’s a good mystery that involves murder, nature and relationships of all kinds. It is well written and it kept my interest from beginning to the end.
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Once There Were Wolves
By Charlotte McConaghy
Narrated by Saskia Maarleveld


McConaghy’s latest novel is a gripping can’t put it down story about nature, love, life and family, plus a chilling whodunit set in the beautiful and unforgiving backdrop of the Scottish Highlands. The author gifts her readers with an intriguing plot and flowing narrative and will have them eating out of her hand from page one until the explosive ending. She also provides a stable full of supporting characters who help tell the tale but it’s definitely her character Inti who is the stand out and along with her twin Aggie are enigmas and as their secrets are revealed and their layers unpeeled will give the audience a look into what makes them who they are.


Saskia Maarleveld gives an absolute outstanding performance and her audience will be in awe as they experience every emotionally filled scene she depicts.


Wolf biologist Inti Flynn believes to save the planet it has to be rewilded so she and her team are tasked with the enormous job of reintroducing wolves to the Scottish Highlands, a land they’ve been absent from for generations. She’s used to resistance so she’s not surprised when she and her team show up with 14 grey wolves they’re faced with angry farmers and ranchers who fear for their lives and the lives of their livestock. What she’s not used to is passion so when she finds it with the police chief she’s not sure she can trust him or her feelings for him. One night while walking home through the forest she comes upon the remains of one of those angry voices by what at first glance looks like a wolf attack so she does the only thing she can to save the wolves that she loves and buries the body. As the investigation into the missing man heats up she learns things about him and the community that leads her to believe that his death may have only been made to look like a wolf attack and the culprit may have two legs and not four.
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I had a really hard time getting into this one. It just wasn’t for me. I’m not sure why I just couldnt get into it.
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"There is cruelty to survive, to fight against. But there is gentleness more than anything, our roots deep and entangled. That is what we hold inside, what we take with us. The way we look after each other."⁣
- Charlotte McConaghy, Once There Were Wolves⁣
This book was beautiful, brutal, raw, poetic, visceral, and overall a total MOOD (picture overcast, gray day in the woods, with wolves nearby). Set in the Scottish Highlands, it tells the story of Inti Flynn, a biologist who arrives to reintroduce fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands to restore the natural habitat. Told from Inti's POV, the reader quickly discovers that the title carries a double meaning. "Once There Were Wolves" refers not just to the Scottish Highlands, but also to the history shared by Inti and her twin sister Aggie, who have both experienced trauma. It is as much a story of conservation as it is a story of sisterhood, love, betrayal, and violence. This book causes one to question the wildness inside each and every one of us.⁣
"'They’re more dangerous than we are.'⁣
'Are they?' I ask. 'They are wilder, certainly.'⁣
'Isn’t it the same?'⁣
'I don’t think so. I think it’s civilization makes us violent. We infect each other.'"⁣
Once There Were Wolves was a breathtaking read! Now I'm eager to get to one of the author's other novels, Migrations. Thank you to for my complimentary audio copy in exchange for an honest review.  Narrator Saskia Maarlevelddid a wonderful job, making this audiobook an immersive experience. I highly recommend it.⁣
*Please note, there are some dark themes and scenes, so be sure to check out CW/TW before reading.*
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I stayed up way past my bedtime listening to the beautiful audiobook version of Once There Were Wolves. I also slipped away for a few solo drives in my car after my husband got home from work so that I could have a bit of alone time and listen to this book. I thoroughly enjoyed this hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric story. The characters were complex and will stay with me for quite a while.

The book centers around Inti Flynn and her twin sister Aggie. Alternating between past and present, we learn their stories and of their deep connection as sisters. In the present day, Inti is a biologist. She and her sister are in the Scottish Highlands because Inti is working on a rewilding project. The projects focus is to reintroduce wolves into the Highlands in an effort to control the deer population and allow for new forest growth. 

There are so many things that I loved about this story. 
1- I learned a ton of super interesting information about wolves. And it didn’t come across as boring encyclopedic text, it was woven into the storyline in a way that made you fall in love with the wolves as much as Inti loved them.
2- Inti has a very interesting neurological condition called Mirror-Touch Synesthesia. Her brain re-creates the sensory experiences of others. If she sees something that someone else is experiencing, she feels it. She feels the pain and/or pleasure of others (including animals). I have never heard of this before and found it to be fascinating. It made for some fantastic description in the story.
3- This book is loaded with mystery. Why does Inti’s sister Aggie not speak? Someone shows up dead. Who killed them? And why? 
4- I loved the secondary characters that lived in the Scottish Highlands.
4- The ending of this book was very well done and I felt satisfied with how everything was answered and tied up.  

Trigger Warnings: 
As much as I loved this book I will say that it will not be for everyone. It is a beautiful dark and sometimes heavy story that deals with trauma, abuse and rape.

Thank you NetGalley, Flatiron Books and Macmillan audio for this audio ARC of Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy in exchange for an honest review.

This audiobook was narrated by Saskia Maarleveld and I can’t imagine any other voice bringing this story to life. It was perfect!
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I requested this one on a whim after seeing a 5 star review immediately followed by a BOTM choice announcement. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t quite for me.

However, I think it was extremely well done and enjoyed how incredibly atmospheric it was! I appreciated the complex characters and they were so well developed.

It was intriguing, emotional and suspenseful. I wanted to love it so much but
I was just never quite invested as I don’t think environmental novels are for me. I do recommend that everyone checks this out as I’ve been seeing nothing but 5 star reviews and it is a breathtaking homage to nature!
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This took me a few chapters to get hooked but once I was, the rest was history. This was soooo good. It was a dark book that I couldn’t guess what was going to happen next. It kept me hooked. I especially loved how it was told flipping between present and past. The author had away of making me feel every emotion they were expressing.
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(From ebook version review: "Takes the shape of your average NYT-bestselling mystery/thriller in a general ways, but proves McConaghy's prowess in how it mitigates the typical pratfalls of those lesser-brained, puzzlebox works. Crafts immense power from its memorable heroine and gorgeous, sparse language.")

The audiobook has a narrator perfectly suited for the material, the rare literary fiction that thrives in audiobook format (in my opinion).
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I had download problems with this book so could only listen to the first 50%, but even only being able to read half, I can say without reservation that this is my favourite book of the year.   The spare, precise, clear, gorgeous writing voice and the utterly unique premise sets it apart from the field and I can't wait to get my hands on a paper copy so that I can luxuriate in the writer's beautiful, powerful words and lose myself in this story of the true meaning of family, whether it's humans or wolves.  Ultimately, it's about love, because isn't that the whole point?  What a wonderful read, and one I'll be foisting on people for a long time to come.
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Charlotte McConaghy is queen of cli-fi books! Migrations was meh for me but I liked this one more I think. It had the whodunnit aspect of a thriller but much more character development and world building. I couldn't entirely relate to the setting or the main character, but that wasn't a huge deal. The mystery that drove the plot was enough to keep me listening, even though I thought the audiobook format wasn't the best for me. i liked the narrator but just found my mind wandering.
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This was a great read albeit a slower story. After reading this author’s previous book, it feels like that style is her trademark. The language used was so descriptive that it really feels as though the reader has stepped into the scene. Prose was well thought out and utilized throughout. The story was an emotional ride and the wolves (and their loss) were keenly felt. The reflection on nature and it’s importance was well done.
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Having not read the previous book that had been raved over, I picked this one up based on author popularity. 
It seems to have not been the right time for me to read/listen to the book, as I was not mesmerized by the characters or location. Having been mentioned that it was set in Scotland, I was hoping for more of this in the book. If I had not been told of the location, I would have assumed it was any wildlife area/ not known about the "history" of having wolves relocated. This might be the right book for those who are interested in relocation projects from the relationship side of those working in the program vs the scientific side. For me it just was an okay book that didn't leave me wanting to stay in the world with the characters.
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Initially I wasn’t sure where this book was going. It started off heavy in environmental fiction but as the plot progressed, it evolved into an intriguing murder mystery. There were sobering topics highlighted in the plot including domestic violence and animal cruelty. The blend of ecosystem and animal welfare were balanced nicely within the plot driven narrative. I listened to the audiobook in one day as it was an enticing and gripping story. I was very curious as to how it would end. I should also mention that mixed within the plot was the element of family loyalty and the need to protect those who are most important to us.- both animal and human alike. The audio performance wasn’t the best I’ve heard but was solid.
Thank you to Netgalley and MacMillan Audio for an advanced audio copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I was immediately engaged by the beginning sentences of the book, only to be disappointed by the story and pace a chapter later. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite get into the book to remain adequately attentive, but I also think this was in part due to the narrator’s reading speed, Although I read quickly when independently reading, I found her quick pace harder to follow and this coupled with the story itself impacted my engagement and interest in the book.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for this advance listener copy in exchange for my honest review.

I enjoyed this story. It wasn't a favorite for me, but I enjoyed it more than I expected to. The synopsis didn't appeal to me initially. It just seemed kind of dry, but the book was surprisingly good.

This novel introduces us to Inti, our protagonist, and her twin sister Aggie. Inti moved to Northern Scotland on a mission to reintroduce wolves into the wild. What stems from there is part family drama, part conservation story, with a splash of a mystery thrown in. 

A local man, who is vehemently opposed to the wolves turns up missing. What is initially seen as an act of the wolves turns into so much more. I also learned a lot about "mirror touch synesthesia", which is a real neurological condition where the brain will simulate the physical feelings of another, a condition that Inti suffers from. This is a fascinating story about the lengths a woman would go to in order to protect the ones she loves.

Now, for the audio. Saskia Maarleveld was a fabulous narrator. Inti was Australian, but some of the other characters were Scottish and she was able to flawlessly switch back and forth between accents. It was a fun listen and I will be seeking out more with her as a narrator.

Overall, 3.75 stars.
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This was such an interesting book, but I think I would have enjoyed it more by reading it physically.  The narrator of the audiobook was great... but something about the story style I think would have been better (at least for me) in a reading experience not a listening experience. The beginning was soo compelling and I loved the main character's "condition" or whatever you want to call it.  The environmental overarching tones were great.  Some things in the end somewhat lost me and I honestly did not care about the romance aspect.  Overall, I recommend the story and think I may reread physically to see how it effects my rating/enjoyment.
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This book was an interesting read but I do not recommend it as an audiobook. This book will be better enjoyed as a physical book. The narrator was wonderful and her pacing was fantastic. However, I felt the content would be better communicated in one's own voice. There is a some technical parts of this book where there are discussions about the behavior of wolves and the process of the group trying to reintroduce wolves to the population. I feel like that information was sometimes lost in the audio version. I often felt like I missed a few things, like I wasn't getting the whole story and like I missed a tidbit and if I rewound the audiobook I would catch it again. Were I reading it I feel like I would have kept that info in my mind more.
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I read and listened to this book and I loved it.  I love the narrator and I love the way that Charlotte McConaghy writes.  She transports you to wherever she is writing about and you are immersed in that location.  I loved (and hated) all of the characters and I could not stop reading or listening@
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Charlotte McConaghy's first novel, Migrations, has been on my radar for a while, but I have not had a chance to pick it up. Because of Once There Were Wolves, I will definitely be moving it up on my TBR, as well as anything else McConaghy writes. Once There Were Wolves is a beautiful, haunting novel about nature, animals, people, and the connections between all of them. 

The way McConaghy writes about nature and our connection to it reminded me a lot of Peter Heller, but with a heavy emphasis on conservation. Both writers write about nature in such a way that it feels like you are there, and that is what makes their writing so beautiful. The added mystery and conflict with the townspeople keep the minutes ticking away effortlessly.

This book goes to another level with the narration by Saskia Maarleveld. She reads with this intimacy that fits perfectly with the subject matter and gives the listener an experience that can't be matched. 

I plan on recommending this for my local book club for next year because there is a lot that can be talked about. 

Trigger warnings for domestic abuse, rape, death of a dog, animal deaths.
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