But then my friend Karen introduced me to Kelley Armstrong's Bitten, and I fell hard for my first werewolf, Clayton Danvers. Armstrong is such a brilliant writer, it was easy for me to love Clay - and of course, most of the characters in her paranormal series.
Since that introduction, I've read various books with werewolves in them, including Under my Skin by Judith Graves - and I've managed to shoulder past any previous reservations. Because I think it has more to do with story than the actual breed of paranorm.
Bitten, Under my Skin...those are good stories, so more than just the mechanical work of their talented writers.
Still, there's something different about the wolves - and the stories - in Maggie Stiefvater's books. I read Shiver in one sitting, devoured Linger on Karen's e-reader, and savoured Forever whenever I could carve out an hour or two.
And now that I've turned the last page, I feel kind of empty. Like, I'm not sure what to pick up next.
The series is an epic love story, told with some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read. Stiefvater's talent astounds me, and there were moments in Forever that I would simply re-read to absorb the words fully, hoping that by osmosis or some other power I could write with even a fraction of Stiefvater's brilliance.
I'm in love with Sam. Not just Sam, but also Cole. (Anyone who knows me will understand why his story is as compelling as Sam's...hello, bad boy!) In Forever, Cole and Isabel's romance was even more forefront than Sam and Grace's, and while that might sit poorly with some readers, I was okay with it - because it's SO well done.
But then, everything Stiefvater writes is.
Her description is exquisite, and her dialogue is crisp (and romantic, and real, and enviable...), but it is her ability to evoke emotion that creates the magic in these books. She's broken my heart more times than should be legal, and I've cried more tears than I care to count. I've laughed and smiled. Thrown my hands in the air with frustration. And slept with the novel under my pillow. Every book in this series is an emotional roller coaster.
Which is why I can't figure out how I feel about the end.
And it is "the end."
For something so final, it feels a little open-ended. I don't need my stories tied up in a pretty red bow with every loose end tucked inside, but after three books of high octane emotion, I wanted to either finish with a good, solid cry...or a deep, envious sigh. I cried and sighed a lot throughout the book, but at the end, I sort of wanted to throw Forever across the room.
That said, I'll read it again. Maybe a few times more, because even though Stiefvater has said good-bye to Mercy Falls, I'm not quite ready to let go.