Wolf of Shadows

If my recent reading choices are any indication, I must be getting a little tired of the winter cold and ice! I’ve been reading books about the atomic bomb (The Bells of Nagasaki), about having to leave Earth due to an ecological disaster (The Green Book), and, this weekend, I read about a wolf and a human family trying to survive nuclear winter in Wolf of Shadows, by Whitley Strieber. I sound like I’m in desperate need of some signs of Spring!

I’ve actually had Wolf of Shadows on my bookshelf for 20 years, but decided to revisit it for Carl V’s Sci Fi Experience. I really liked it when I first read it, and found myself thinking about it again after reading about the bombing of Nagasaki. It’s a very short book and can be read in a single sitting, but it’s big on ideas. It’s a story of a lone wolf and a young woman and her children struggling for survival during the nuclear winter following an atomic bomb explosion near Minneapolis. What fascinated me most was that the story is told through the eyes of the wolf. This wolf recognizes the woman as the person who had been watching and studying him for so long, so he protects her and her surviving daughter. They all struggle to survive the freezing cold and encounters with hungry animals and desperate humans, as they head south in search of warmth and sunshine.

In this book, there were powerful messages about finding new ways of relating to animals and of finding better ways to deal with human conflict. What happened to the wolf and the woman and her daughter? Did they all survive this terrible ordeal? There was no answer at the end of the book about life in this post-apocalyptic world, but in his “Afterword,” Whitley Strieber spoke directly to his readers and told them:

The true end of the story comes when we decide, as a species, to dismantle the machine and use our great intelligence on behalf of the earth that bears us, instead of against her. 

12 thoughts on “Wolf of Shadows

  1. Chris

    This book sounds wonderful Robin. It’s definitely going to the wishlist! I might see if my library has it. I’ve always loved wolves, so I know I’ll enjoy that aspect of it 🙂 They’re such beautiful creatures!


  2. Robin

    Chris, I’m fascinated with wolves, too, and this book did a great job of portraying the wolf culture. Our library still has copies, so I hope you can track it down. If you can’t find it, let me know. I’ll loan you my copy.


  3. Bookfool

    Oh, oh, oh! That sounds like my kind of book. I love post-apocalyptic novels (and my son adores wolves, so I’m sure he’d read it, also). Thanks! That one’s going straight to the wish list. 🙂


  4. Nymeth

    This sounds so good! And I absolutely love that quote you shared.

    PS: I wanted to let you know that I gave you that “You Make My Day” award that’s been going around 🙂


  5. Les

    You might enjoy perusing this blog:


    It’s not about wolves, but the pictures of the coyote are fabulous! I can’t remember when or how I stumbled upon it, but it’s part of my daily blog-hop.

    I love post-apocalyptic books and will have to look for Wolf of Shadows. Great review!


  6. Robin

    It’s well done and very interesting, Jenclair. I think you’d like it a lot.

    Thanks for the link, Les. I’ve been enjoying her coyote blog AND her travels blog. Her photos are incredible! And I’m as fascinated with coyotes as wolves.


  7. Carl V.

    20 years! Wow! Not sure I’ve had anything on my to-be-read pile quite that long (although I may be surprised if I got to looking). I too am ready for spring, bring it on!


  8. Robin

    Hi Carl, I actually read this little book the first time 20 years ago and I’ve wanted to reread it since then. However, I do have other books that have been on my TBR pile for at least that long, or longer, so I guess that reveals that my perception of my reading time is “timeless.”…or that I am the world’s greatest procrastinator!



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