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Walking Wolf

Nancy A. Collins

Mark V. Ziesing

US trade hardcover edition

ISBN 0-929480-42-2

181 pages; $25.00

Date Reviewed: 04-02-1992

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel © 2002



One of the most entertaining ways to read history is to do so in a novel where a supernatural protagonist lives on through generations, and weathers changes over a period of time which would kill the average narrator. Sure, you can have a long-lived narrator, like Little Big Man. But why settle for the long-lived, when you can go for immortal, or nearly so? 'Walking Wolf' is Nancy Collins' take on American Indian history, seen through the eyes of Walking Wolf, the title character, a white man raised by Indians who happens to be a werewolf. Call it Little Big Wolf.

Collins sets the tone of her tale quickly, having Billy Skillet tell his tale in a terse, conversational first-person voice. This device could wear thin, but doesn't, partially because the book is so short, but more importantly because the prose is entertaining, funny and well-written. Her characters are more than flat images lifted out of her obvious research, brought alive by her writing skill.

The supernatural aspects of this novel are excellently woven into the fabric of reality, as well as impressively cohesive. Collins' 'system of the supernatural' is slick and unobtrusive. Unfortunately, the length of this novel does at times act against it. Sometimes it seems as if we are only getting the fruits of Collins research, with the barest shreds of her characters and their story shoe-horned in to keep the narrative flowing. It's an impressive amount of research, and this history in itself is entertaining, but it does tend to distract from the novelistic aspects of the story, as do some of the more startlingly violent scenes.

Collins' Sonya Blue character is the subject of three immensely popular novels, and in 'Walking Wolf' she keeps her options open for any number of sequels. It's a tribute to her skill that the reader is likely to want to read them.