Darkness continues to haunt Abby since her escape from the Hunterz. Questions continue to circle. Who are they, really? Why do they hate the wolves so much?
I huddled in the darkness, barely aware of the passing hours and days. The wolf ate when she was hungry. She found mice and rodents to catch and devour. I was barely aware of the chase or the joy she found in the hunt. The wolf drank from streams and creeks along her journey. She slept when she was tired and traveled the rest of it.
I was aware the forest was starting to look familiar, but I didn't care enough to wonder why or where I was. When the big white sprawling house came before us, I realized the wolf had brought us to the only other place she knew to go: Aunt Lilly's.
I didn't leave the safety within the wolf when we arrived at the house. I was aware when we stepped onto the porch and dropped to the cool white washed boards where the wolf curled up and slept, but I stayed safe, hidden deep. The wolf and the instincts that drove her protected us. I was happy to let her lead. I was happy to be carried wherever she decided to go. I slept as the wolf did throughout the rest of the night.
When the wolf woke, I woke with her. We were still curled on the porch, but we were within a pile of dogs that had come to keep us safe and warm and offer company. The wolf was happy for the companions, as I was not able to be one. I was silent and empty and had nothing to give right then. I had nothing left to offer her.
I saw my Aunt come out on the porch, and I saw the moment she recognized me for what I was. "Abby, honey. What are you doing here?"
I shrank back deeper within the wolf, and as the wolf had nothing to say to her in that form, Aunt Lilly was left at a loss. She crouched down before us and ran her hands over my head and down my back. "You look a little worse for wear. Do you want to come in and eat? Maybe get a shower and some clothes?"
I wasn't coming out of the wolf form. I realized that had been my intention the whole time. I simply hadn't been ready to face it. I was obviously not very good as a human, so I would try being a wolf for a bit. I used a little more energy and turned my head away from her and dropped it back down on my front paws.
"Abby? What's wrong?"
I had no answer for her, so I didn't move or acknowledge her question. I didn't know what to tell her. I was still feeling sorry for myself, and I didn't have a plan of how to fix it other than to ignore it. I was happy as a wolf. Why did I have to be a human anyway?
She stayed crouched down next to me for a long time. She tried to talk to me, but I didn't answer. Finally, she gave up and stepped back. Her dog friends stayed with me, protecting me in their own way. She surveyed the pile of us then said, "Well, I guess I'll check on you in a bit."
I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. I spent the next few days hardly moving a muscle. What was the point? Aside from getting up to empty my bladder or get a drink of water, I stayed on the porch, quiet and still. Aunt Lilly stopped trying to talk to me, but she did continue to sit with me and offer what comfort she could by way of gentle caresses or tidbits of food she could tempt me with, or just simple water. The best part was when she sat in the white rocker and just rocked. Her being there was enough. Sometimes when she sat there, I would get up and sit next to her, just to be close to someone who gave a damn about me. Just me. Not what I could do for her, or what I could do for the clan. She just cared about me.
Why was I so unlovable by everyone else? Why didn't my mother want me anymore? Why did my father only see me for what I offered the clan? Why didn't Derek just want me? Why. Why. Why! What was so wrong with just being me?
It was times like those that even in wolf form I was able to cry. When the hurt of the world grew to immense I could not hold it in anymore. I cried the sounds of the wolf, even if it didn't come with the tears of a human. Aunt Lilly wouldn't press or talk, she was simply there with me as I tried to handle the sadness overwhelming me. She'd caress my head and continue to rock.
I don't know how long things went on like that. Maybe a few days, maybe it was an entire week. I do know when it came to an abrupt end. Morning arrived with a definite chill in the air. I didn't notice the cold all that much, thanks to my warm fur, but also because Aunt Lilly's dogs took shifts with what I thought of as protecting me. There were always a handful of them, either lying next to me or with me, or whatever. I was never cold or alone. They knew I was hurting and they in their animal wisdom stayed with me as comfort. Animals are awesome. People…suck.
Courtney Rene lives in the State of Ohio with her husband and two children. She is a graduate and member of the Institute of Children’s Literature. Her writings include magazine articles, short fiction stories, several anthologies, as well as her young adult novels, A Howl in the Night and the Shadow Dancer series, published through Rogue Phoenix Press. For a complete listing, visit www.ctnyrene.blogspot com or feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before the Dawn
Reviewed by Astilbe of LASR Reviews
3 stars out of 5
There’s a wolf inside of Abby that can’t wait to get out again.
Lilly, Abby’s aunt, was such a kind person and wonderful role model for her niece. She brought a sense of stability and calm to Abby’s life that was desperately needed. Every time Lilly entered a scene, I smiled because I knew she was going to make everything feel alright again. She was by far my favorite character in this tale.
I would have liked to see more time spent developing Abby’s personality. She spent a great deal of this story being angry. While she had good reasons for feeling that way so often, it was hard to get to know the other sides of her personality because of it. I would have loved to see more examples of how she behaved when she was in other moods, too, so I could discover the rest of her as well.
The shifter society was fascinating. I really enjoyed seeing how it all worked, especially when it came to how men and women relate to each other in this world and all of the double standards that they have about what men are allowed to do but women are not. Abby’s reactions to those sections of the plot were exactly what I’d expect from her. It was as interesting to see her act the way I thought she would as it was to explore why so many of the men in this universe accept the status quo.
This book is the third in a series. I’d recommend reading the first two instalments before jumping into this one.
Before the Dawn should be read by anyone who enjoys stories about shifters.
Website URL: Www.Courtneyrene.com
Blog URL: www.ctnyrene.blogspot.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Shadow-Dancer-and-more-by-Courtney-Rene-164433473646449/
Twitter handle: @ctnyrene
ALSO BY COURTNEY RENE
A Howl in the Night
Reviewd by William Delamar
On a scale of 1-5, the rating is 5 by William Delamar.
I don’t generally read novels in this genre, but a friend recommended it, so I read it and I’m glad. The author, Courtney Rene, writes clearly and the story unfolds with purpose and intrigue. It’s the kind of book that’s hard to put down. Abigail Staton’s mother has a strange reaction to a gift to Abigail from Dad. Abigail is thrust into a world not of her choosing. Finally she has to make a choice and face serious consequences with any decision. This novel is a grabber. If you dare read it, be prepared for a shock.
Sweet Sixteen is supposed to be a turning point in your life. The world is before you in all its glory, just waiting for you to reach out and grab it. Right? For Abigail Staton no, not so much. Not only does she suddenly lose her best friend due to a fight, but suddenly her mother expects her to believe that the father, she has never met, is actually a werewolf. With that revelation, Abby is thrust into the world of two wolf clans who are not only fighting each other, but also fighting for Abby, one of the few females born to the shape-shifters. Her father is determined to pair Abby up with Derek, a very dominant and overwhelming shifter. Abby vehemently balks at this union to disastrous results. When war is declared between the two clans, Abby has to decide what side she is actually on.
The Full Moon Rises
By Jeffrey Ross
5 stars out of 5
The Full Moon Rises: A howl In the Night Book 2 by Courtney Rene continues the dramatic life of Abby, a nearly seventeen-year-old shapeshifter who tries to balance her wolf and human “selves.”
This unique coming-of-age narrative details Abby’s struggles with her own special nature and the patriarchal wolf clan to which she belongs-- and climaxes as she confronts the wolf-destroying group The Hunterz.
A successful strain of feminism persists in this second book of the Howling as strong-willed Abby exerts her emerging personality and successfully defines her relationships with humans and shapeshifters.
I only hope a third book is in the works for this gritty, naturalistic, and enticing series.
Life as a shape shifter is not as easy as it would seem, especially not for Abigail Staton. Being a teenager and a shape shifter is even harder, not to mention being one of the last remaining females in the two competing wolf clans and the only girl in her new schools. Striving to find where she belongs, gets sidelined when an old threat to the wolves resurfaces. The clans are forced to come together in a semi-truce, and the already dominant males become even more controlling in trying to protect their own as well as their secret. Abby finds herself in the middle yet again, but this time, she will need both clans in order to survive.