Ravensong is the second book in T.J. Klune’s Green Creek series, and I believe it is best enjoyed when read in order.
To recap without too many spoilers: Green Creek, Oregon is a tiny mountain town that possesses great mystical power. It is the home location of the Bennett wolf pack, and where Gordo Livingstone grew up. He was destined to be the witch of the Bennett pack, and endured years of meticulous and painful tattooing as a child, administered by his witch father. He has always had a strange and unshakable connection to Mark Bennett, brother and second to the Alpha. When his family disintegrated, Gordo was a Bennett in truth, but he was left behind after a terrible battle that left most of the pack dead. He never forgave Mark, or the Bennetts, for leaving him alone in Green Creek.
The Bennetts returned several years back, and Gordo’s mystical tether, Ox, fell for Joe, the youngest of the new Bennett generation and the one destined to become Alpha. Gordo didn’t want any part of the Bennetts, but he couldn’t resist the call when trouble came to hunt the pack. He watched over the three Bennett sons on their quest for vengeance, and that was a struggle of faith. Over those three years, he bonded again to the pack, despite his misgivings. When the battle comes back to Green Creek, it’s clear this in not the last stand, only the beginning of a new phase in a war the Bennetts never wanted, but won’t lose. As for Mark and Gordo, well, that was a love story fated in the heart of Green Creek.
It’s a little hard to discuss the beginning of this story, because it flashes back between the past and present a lot. While this might otherwise be jarring, the backstory was woven into the present action in a way that felt comfortable and embracing. Gordo’s intense pain and abandonment are real and tangible parts of this story. His tattoos, imbued with magic, reflect his mood and strength. His raven soaring, his roses wilting, they all point to his state of mind and heart. I was almost afraid the road travels would be problematic, from a pacing standpoint, but there were many fast forwards and key scenes foreshadowed the larger conflict to come. Meetings and conversations that happened ended up being highly relevant to the larger picture being drawn.
Throughout the story—and this includes the first novel Wolfsong—the writing has a rhythmic quality that had me pressing on even when I tired in the wee hours. Cadences and refrains add weight to the “-song” part of the book names. A constant drumbeat of “Mark, Mark, Mark” pulses within Gordo, and he struggles against it, due to his deep hurt. He makes every effort to avoid Mark—for years—and when they are together, he lashes out over past abandonments. For his part, Mark is stoic, and mostly awesomely sweet. He will never not want Gordo, but he’s resolved to let Gordo come to him.
Gordo’s friends are awesome, and we know they become somewhat like pack, even though they are all fully human. They are ready to defend Green Creek and it comes to that. The menace that brews against the Bennetts is centered in their land, and it’s almost too much for their mystical powers to contain. But, not entirely. The challenge Gordo must face isn’t falling in love, but letting go of his anger and embracing his destiny.
He is the witch of the Bennett Pack of Green Creek and no one will take his pack from him again. Not only that, but he will not allow the Bennetts, his family, to perish—and that includes the man who took his heart way back in childhood: Mark. Part of the attack on the Bennetts comes in the form of an illness that’s sweeping the wolf packs all over the nation, and it’s striking just when a past enemy has arrived at the town’s edge. Can Gordo battle the external and internal threats at once? Will doing so cost him Mark forever?
I honestly couldn’t set this book down for any length of time. The action is constantly building. The conflict is fierce between the physical and emotional battles that Gordo must face. Gordo is used to suffering, and he’s been forged into a weapon against his will essentially since birth, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t ready to be used. Once he finds his heart again, he’s the unstoppable force his father predicted he’d become all those years ago. His journey was entirely bittersweet, and amazingly heartbreaking. I ached for him to find love and peace, which we do get near the end, but it’s not a fully happy ending. It’s a calm before the next storm, with the hope that Gordo and Mark will persevere, along with the rest of the Bennetts, Ox, and humans of Green Creek. Expect some strong small town ties, a little bit of well-deserved passion, and a battle royale that leaves you feeling these words are inked into your skin: Bring It.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.