Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 5 stars
Narrator: Kirt Graves
Length: 17 hours, 33 minutes
After years of living with the timberwolf by his side, Carter Bennett finally learned the truth about the man behind the wolf. But almost as soon as Gavin revealed himself, he was gone, sacrificing himself by leaving with Robert Livingstone in order to protect Carter and his pack. Now Carter is on the road, having left his family behind in order to find Gavin. As the months wear on, Carter feels himself slipping. It is too long to go without a connection to his alphas, or to his brother and tether, Kelly. But there is nothing that Carter won’t do to bring Gavin back.
When Carter finally finds Gavin, all he wants is to bring him back home to Green Creek. But Gavin knows it’s not that easy. Robert has turned into a terrifying monster, one who has both physical strength and emotional power over Gavin. Gavin isn’t sure he can leave Robert, and if he does, he fears what Robert will do to Carter and the pack. Gavin does all he can to push Carter away, but Carter is determined not to lose Gavin again. Even when they manage to break free of Robert’s hold and return to Green Creek, they know they are not safe. The final showdown between the Bennetts and Robert Livingstone has been building and there is no escaping it. Now, the Bennetts will need to give all they have to finally end the conflict for good.
So here we are at the end of the fabulous saga that is T.J. Klune’s Green Creek series. This is one of those series that grabbed me right from the start and I have been eagerly following along through all four books. If you have started the series, you probably don’t need me to tell you that you are going to want to read this final installment. And if you haven’t, this is the time to grab it as the books are all out. This is an amazing series, and pretty much everyone I know who has read it has a strong emotional connection to these books, myself included. They are also quite long, which means this is saga and a journey. So I have a lot of thoughts, both about the book and the series, and so I am just going to let it out all here in a bit of a ramble…
A key element of this series is the importance of pack and family. Early on in Brothersong, this mostly comes through in regards to Carter’s relationship with Kelly, as Kelly is his tether. We learn a lot about the importance of these brothers to one another. I thought it was interesting that the book’s title reflects this connection, rather than the relationship between Gavin and Carter, but I think in the end that it is fitting. Because while Gavin is what draws Carter out away from his family, Kelly is what keeps him strong and who ultimately brings him back. It also showcases how important this pack is to one another, and there are some lovely scenes highlighting the connections among this group. Not to mention some incredible and intense scenes as they all battle Robert Livingstone, and the way they all work together and sacrifice for each other is a hallmark of the series. I love the way Klune ties it up at the end, giving everyone their resolution. The pack interaction also gives some great comic relief. They are a snarky bunch, and the way they poke at one another and the sarcastic asides both humanize them and give us a break from some of the intensity.
One of the things that strikes me most about this book and series is the importance of Thomas Bennett. It is hard to believe he is only alive for a small fraction of the series, as his presence is so all encompassing throughout the books. Here we see that Thomas is still that shining beacon for his family, the touchstone that they all lean on and that provides emotional support. In tense moments or when he is losing himself, Carter sees Thomas and that brings him the comfort and strength he needs to move forward. But at the same time, we know that Thomas has made mistakes along the way. We have seen them in the past, and we see it again here. I love the way that Thomas is imperfect. He is a hero, but he is not without fault. He made bad decisions and he hurt people. But he is also beloved. I love this duality Klune brings to this character and the way we see that even those with the best intentions aren’t always perfect.
One of my favorite moments in Heartsong (and in fact, it brought a tear to my eye) is when the town of Green Creek stands along the road and cheers the Bennetts on as they head for Caswell. I love the way Klune has developed the relationship between the people of Green Creek and the Bennetts. At first, these people had no idea wolves existed, and certainly not that they lived among them. But when the truth was ultimately revealed, Green Creek rallied behind their pack. They have been willing to sacrifice to protect their town and protect their wolves, and here we see it again. There are some incredibly lovely moments as we see the way they are willing to fight with all they have. Will, in particular, is a wonderful (and amusing) character, who leads the charge from the Green Creek end to both prepare the town from attack and to gather everyone together to fight. Seeing the bond of this community and the way they are almost an extension of the pack is such a highlight of these books for me. And there are just so many amazing and intense scenes here that I loved.
I enjoyed the relationship between Gavin and Carter and I loved seeing Gavin’s evolution from scared and almost feral, to someone strong and much more confident. And Carter is so steadfast. He is determined to bring Gavin home, to not let him be a sacrifice. There is a fierceness to their connection that I really loved. But there is also a playfulness to their dynamic, which I think works so well. I will say that this is a slow, slow burn here. On one hand, everyone but the pair of them knew they are mates long ago. And it is clear there is a strong bond and an unspoken acceptance that they are going to be together. But at the same time, it takes a while for the men to actually acknowledge to each other that they care about each other and are mates. It’s not just the sexual side of it, but that formal acceptance of their connection that seemed to take a while and that I wanted to see earlier on.
My only other small issue is that a times things seemed to be a little rambling. At the start of the book, Carter is on the road and there is a recounting of both his experience looking for Gavin, as well as sort of a recalling of various other moments from Carter’s past. It felt like too much recap for me of things we have already seen or heard in other books. In a few cases, we get some new insight, like Carter remembering a conversation between Thomas and Mark about Gordo that young Carter overhears. But most of it recounts things we already know and have heard before without adding much new. I also think the middle here is a little slow, with a lot of day-to-day interaction in Green Creek before the action picks up again that I think could have been tightened up given the length of the story.
As with all the books, I listened to this one in audio with narrator Kirt Graves. I’ll warn you, I am going to gush here. Because I have to say, there are some books that are so intrinsically connected to their narrator that it is impossible to imagine them with anyone else, and that is the case here with the Green Creek series. Kirt Graves’ narration is so deeply bound to this series for me, and such an incredible performance that when I heard his first words on Brothersong, I got a little teary. This is a series where once I heard the first book in audio, I couldn’t even conceive of not listening to them all that way, even when I had to wait months after the ebook released for the audio format. Graves’ performance is just that good and his voice is as much a part of the series as Klune’s is for me.
This is a series where tone and pacing are such a key part of the books. There is almost a rhythm to Klune’s writing, a cadence that makes up the stories. Words and phrases are often repeated. There is a feeling with these books, and Graves just captures it all perfectly. These can’t be easy stories to narrate because there is such a specific style to them, and Graves just excels here. He gets the mood and the emotion and the intensity exactly right. This is also an incredibly long series with a huge cast of characters. The continuity across the series is well done and the characters have a uniqueness that makes it easy to tell them apart, even in a group setting. Graves also captures Gavin well here. He is a character who struggles with his human side for much of the book, and he speaks in a halting way that Graves develops nicely.
So as I wrap up this series, I am really sad to see it go. There are some books that just stick with you, and this series is definitely one for me. I feel emotionally connected to this story, to these characters, and to this pack. I have gone through ups and downs and ranges of emotions. And I think Klune brings it all home wonderfully here. It can’t not be easy to take such an epic story and bring it all together into one final installment, but Klune really does an excellent job. This series will stay with me for a long time, and the audio enhances it just wonderfully. It is a standout series and one I can highly recommend.