Book Review: Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh

August 12, 2019 Book Reviews 2

Book Review: Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Published by Berkley Books on June 4, 2019
Pages: 416
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel’s Enigma, Shards of Hope, “Fairy Balloons”, "An Unexpected Guest”, Allegiance of Honor, "The Song of the Wolf", Silver Silence, Archangel’s Heart, Archangel’s Viper, Ocean Light, "Elena's School of Horror", Cherish Hard, "Ain’t No Party Like A Bear Party", Archangel's Prophecy, "One Night At The Refuge", "Secret Things", Rebel Hard, Rock Hard

Third in the Psy-Changeling: Trinity paranormal romance series (eighteenth in the overall Psy-Changeling universe) and revolving around a partnership of Psy, Changelings, and humans against an enemy. The couple focus is on Memory Aven-Rose, an E psy, and Alexei Harte, a SnowDancer lieutenant. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Psy-Changeling books on my website.

My Take

It’s about diversity and symbolizes our own world in which every living thing affects every other life form in this primarily character-driven story. And yes, I liked it, but I felt the pace was uneven, slow as Memory whined on about what a monster she was and the same ol’, same ol’ of the protagonist changeling’s issues. Although, I must say that Alexei’s issues were unique and rather terrifying for his future.

Singh uses a third person global subjective point-of-view primarily from Memory’s and Alexei’s perspectives, but includes Krychek’s, Renault’s, Hawke’s, and more.

It’s fascinating to see how much the Psy have changed as we experience Memory’s thoughts — how the Arrows have changed from fearsome killers to protectors, especially as evidenced when the mind control is forced on them, the contrast between the unemotional Psy we’ve read about to this point as opposed to Memory’s inability to suppress her own emotions, the truth about her sub-designation…and its history, the revelations Krychek and others have as they realize how horribly the Silence Protocol screwed up the PsyNet.

It’s that entirely new Psy mind waking from “its decades-long sleep”, eager to achieve higher levels of power, anyway he can that introduces a new conflict for the series. Scary…! And this mind is so conflicted! Attacking Arrows, wanting and not wanting to kill Es, the fugue states…and how it relates to Silence as well as the parallel mind of the serial killer and his relationship to Silence. For that PsyNet is now filled with emotion, revealing the evil and unveiling a suppressed population.

Singh does introduce some useful conflicts that make the story more interesting, including the question of Memory’s role as Renault’s assistant; how they uncover Memory’s true abilities using the psychopathic Amara eek and how it changes the twins’ interactions — a nice bit of foreshadowing regarding the Aleine twins and a hope for other Psy psychopaths; Alexei’s fears about mating, loving; the release of far more dangerous, out-of-control adults now that Silence has ended; and, Memory’s own acceptance of her designation.

It is a story about those psychic Psy, so there’s a lot of mind-messing going on: the unknown mind and Renault. It was quite confusing for me, and I suspect Singh intended to keep us guessing as to whether the two minds are the same person!

Those revelations about the PsyNet are absolutely and totally fascinating. And such a kick in the pants for the Psy, lol. Another kick is what it says when the average Psy puts more faith in changelings than in their own leaders.

It was also a complex frustration as Singh dribbled out clues about Alexei’s brother with that fascinating insight into what triggers a changeling going rogue feeling too right. Singh also teased us about what it was that Memory was able to do for her kidnapper, making me nuts to find out what that value was, but then Singh tortured us with Memory going on and on and on and on…oy…about how she’s a monster. I’m also annoyed about the lack of explanation about subdesignation sigma. I’ll hope that Singh addresses this in future stories!

And yeah, Memory was much too well-adjusted to being among people. Sure, I get that she had TV and could watch how people interacted, but that is NOTHING to actually experiencing people. Maybe her E-designation helped with that, but I just don’t buy it. Especially when you consider how terrified she was of the Arrows. If she’s been isolated from the PsyNet, how would she know they’re so scary? If she’s been watching TV, how is it she doesn’t know how they’ve changed? How would she know what was developmentally advanced in a two-year-old? And, okay, I love how assertive she was with Alexei…

There are a number of flashbacks for a number of characters, reflecting back on the Harte-Vasiliev tragedy, Memory’s kidnapping, another “explanation” as to how Silence made the Psy so vulnerable, and the loss of Hawke’s parents. There is some foreshadowing as well from Memory’s learning she has a secondary ability to the huge, series-changing arc about Silence. As for the idea of a wolf-leopard gang. Yep, I’d believe it of Roman and Julian, lol.

Alexei’s courtship of Memory, lololol… The teasing and playfulness in the packs is such a treat, and part of why I love Singh’s Psy-Changeling series. Both packs have always been so supportive of their members and evolving into support of wolf and leopard together. Those submissives who tackle unhappy dominants cracked me up! And the Arrows have joined this love fest! And just wait till you read about Memory introducing COLOR!!

I don’t care for the name Memory, but I do love her mother’s reason for using it.

Ewww, ick, and yet it does make sense, that a psychopath can feel pleasure, but it’s not a version a normal person would understand. And Memory reckons she’s learned from Amara as well, lol.

If you follow the Psy-Changeling series, you really must read Wolf Rain for the major revelations that occur.

The Story

Silence has enabled the pathologically emotionless to thrive — and hide — in the world. A world that is falling apart for the Psy, who are reaping the horror of their choices.

Until an unknown E is rescued, one who is attuned to monsters — and charms a wolf.

The Characters

Memory Aven-Rose Renault, an aberrant E, had been kidnapped fifteen years ago when she was eight years old. Jitterbug had been Memory’s cat, a pet who had kept her sane through the years. Diana Aven-Rose had been Memory’s mother.

The grieving Alexei “Lexie” Vasiliev Harte is part of SnowDancer and a strategic-thinking lieutenant who trained as a sniper with his civilian training as a computronic engineer. Who’s been banned from the poker table by his buddies. Brodie Harte Vasiliev had been his older adrenaline-loving brother, executed. Etta had been Brodie’s mate. Calissa Harte had been their mother; Konstantin Vasiliev their father. Aunt Clementine “Min”, a senior soldier, and Gustav Harte, a lighting engineer, had raised the boys. Franzi is Min’s daughter.

SnowDancer is…
…a wolf pack in alliance with the leopards, DarkRiver, and based outside San Francisco. Hawke Snow is their alpha mated to Sienna Walker, a deadly cardinal X (Kiss of Snow, 10). Tristan had been Hawke’s father; Aren his gifted artist mother. Both destroyed by rogue Psy. Riley is a senior lieutenant mated to Mercy, a leopard changeling (Branded by Fire, 6), and they’ve recently had their triplets — Belle is one of them but a leopard changeling while her two brothers are wolves. Judd Lauren had been an Arrow, a Tk-Cell +9 and Tp +9, and is now a lieutenant with SnowDancer (he was mated to Brenna Kincaid, part of the den’s tech team, in Caressed by Ice, 3.) Indigo Riviere is a lieutenant mated to Drew Kincaid (Play of Passion, 9). Riaz is mated to Adria (Tangle of Need, 11). Toby Walker is Sienna’s teenage brother, a cardinal with a secondary empathic ability. Ben is a young mischievous pup with a young sister, Elodie.

The pregnant Lara is mated to Walker Lauren, one of the renegade Psy and Judd’s brother. Lucy is a nurse. Elias is a senior soldier. Matthias Agrey García is a lieutenant and Alexei’s friend; he’s spent a year hoping to interest Nell. He was once discovered in bed with an entire team of cheerleaders. Felix is a plant expert. Evie loves a morning cuddle. D’Arn and the human yet deadly Sing-Liu, Elias and Yuki, and Dalton, who is the pack librarian are more members of the pack.

Ember is Alexei’s second-in-command back at his home base.

DarkRiver is…
…the leopard pack also based outside San Francisco and led by Lucas Hunter who is mated to Sascha Duncan, a cardinal E with a 3.5 telepathy. They have a baby girl, Naya, the only Psy-changeling child in the world. Emmett Schaeffer is one of their soldiers. Emmett’s mother/mate?, Dr Keelie Schaeffer, is running a second study on changeling rogues. Midnight is Keelie’s cat. Clay (he’s mated to Tally; Mine to Possess, 4), and they’ve taken in young Noor Hassan who had played with Vashti. Rina is a sensual and highly trained soldier.

Tamsyn “Tammy” Ryder is the pack’s senior healer, qualified doctor, and mated to Nathan, the pack’s most senior sentinel (Enchanted Season: “A Beat of Temptation”, 0.5). They have two darling twin cubs: Julian and Roman.

Ashaya Aleine is a brilliant scientist with a Designation M with the ability to manipulate genes and mated to Dorian Christensen, a leopard sentinel (Hostage to Pleasure, 5). Keenan is Ashaya’s Psy son who considers himself an honorary cat and loved by Dorian. Amara is her psychopathic twin with a science Gradient of 9.9.

WindHaven is…
…a flock of falcons which has an agreement with SnowDancer.

Regular humans

Dr Samuel Rain is another brilliant scientist who worked in experimental biofusion. Mrs Wembley runs a shop and has a granddaughter, Mialin, who lives with her parents at DarkRiver.

The Psy are…

…a race that had evolved from humans, using a number range to indicate the strength of their power. For over 100 years, they have employed a Silence Protocol that refused to allow emotions in the Psy, a protocol that is ensuring the end of the PsyNet, a psychic network that provides the biofeedback needed by all Psy and without which they will not be able to live. The PsyNet itself split when Silence was implemented: the DarkMind and the NetMind. Es are holding the Honeycomb, preventing the PsyNet from collapsing, which means no one can escape emotions. Project/Operation Scarab was an attempt to enable Psy who lost some of their strength to gain it back, to modify Silence for those Psy who lost some of their strength. One of the Scarab subjects included Ricky J.

The current Ruling Coalition includes Kaleb Krychek, a dual cardinal telekinetic and teleporter and the most powerful man in the PsyNet (mated to Sahara Kyriakus, a cardinal F; Heart of Obsidian, 12); Ivy Jane Zen (she’s with Vasic Zen who is Aden’s second-in-command; Shield of Winter, 13); Nikita Duncan (Sascha’s powerful mother); Anthony Kyriakus, the head of the NightStar Clan, which dominates the F-designations; and, Aden Kai, the Arrow leader.

Silver Mercant, a telepath with a Gradient of 9.5 with a secondary Tp-A ability, had been Krychek’s aide but is now in charge of the EmNet, the Emergency Response Network. She’s also mated to Valentin Nikolaev, the alpha of the StoneWater bear pack in Russia (Silver Silence, 1 (16)). Adina Mercant, Silver’s great-grandmother, had been an infamous poet.

Erasmus David Renault, a wealthy Gradient 8.7 telekinetic with teleportation capabilities, is a psychopathic serial killer who has thrived under Silence. Renault’s father had been a teleporter working with a bunch of scientists. Another of Renault’s victims is Vashti, an eight-year-old.

Pax Marshall, a Gradient 9 telepath, leads the Marshall family group. Theodora, a Tk 2.7, is his twin who got the lion’s share of a conscience, but was eliminated from their family records. She works as a comm tech shifting miniature components.

Dr Mehra is a medical doctor, a Gradient 9.8 M-Psy. Madrigal Esperanza is the editorial director of the PsyNet Beacon

The Arrows are/were…
…a deadly squad of assassins and shadow operatives led by Aden Kai, Gradient 4.3 telepath with a minor 3.2 M ability — and his mirror gift. (He’s with Zaira Neve, a fellow Arrow; Shards of Hope, 14.) The evolving Yuri who might not survive. Cristabel is a respected trainer. Even Amin is susceptible. Nerida is falling for Yuri. Axl. The hospital’s surveillance and data expert is Tamar.

The Empathic Collective is…
…an E-Psy union that will look out for their membership with a seat on the Ruling Coalition. They’re led by Ivy Jane Zen, Vasic’s wife.

The empathic training ground/compound is located in SnowDancer territory and protected by the Arrows. Jaya Laila Storm is one of the teachers and is a Gradient 8.8 medical empath (she’s bonded with Abbot). She’s also the new PsyNet Beacon‘s Social Interaction columnist, helping its readers tread the minefield of emotion. Phantom is Jaya’s gray cat. Cordelia, now ranked as a medical Gradient 7.9, is one of the students.

The E-designation are empaths who can heal minds; those Es of sub-designation sigma were considered dangerous with a secondary ability to filer psychopathy. Dr Alice Eldridge had been/is a scientist who was investigating the Es 100 years ago. And she’s back (Tangle of Need, 11).

The Human Alliance is…

…trying to protect humanity from the Psy and the Changelings and is based in Venice with Bowen “Bo” Knight as its security chief and leader. Kaia is Bo’s mate with a pet mouse, Hex (Ocean Light, 2 (17)).

A rogue changeling is when the changeling gives up his or her human side and becomes the animal who will track, attack, and kill the people they loved. Harmonies exist between twin Psy and forge a deeper emotional tie between these twins each time they use these ties. Naturally, Harmonies-using twins were banned in the unemotional Silence. The Trinity Accord is the latest treaty in which Psy, humans, and changelings will be equal, working to build a stable world. A cardinal Psy has no ranking on the Gradient; they’re too far off the charts to measure. The Correlation Concept was when the Psy Council realized they couldn’t kill off the Es and chose to erase all knowledge of Es instead.

The Cover and Title

The cover is shades of green with a snowy mountain in the background on the right and the forest on the left. A pale green silhouette of a wolf’s head howling frames the centered darker green silhouettes of Alexei and Memory in the lower half of the cover. All the text is in white starting with the info blurb at the top, the author’s name underneath it, the title in a mix of fonts spanning the couple’s bodies, and the series information at the very bottom.

I get the Wolf part of the title, but I have no idea where the Rain came in.

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