This series is thrilling, but it's also extremely intense, even dark at times. It's a very heavy series dealing with the court of public opinion. This series causes the reader/listener to ask uncomfortable questions and face uncomfortable truths about society today and our part in it. It doesn't overtly do so, but if you really process the material, it will naturally lead you to such introspection.
Once I did finally gather enough courage to start Wolfhunter River, I was immediately sucked in. I appreciate that Rachel Caine doesn't mind giving us a brief refresher on the events of the past two books. It reminded me of how much I love the character of Gwen Proctor. I'm drawn to fierce, protective maternal characters and Gwen fits that bill better than anyone I've ever read.
The beginning of the story was uncomfortable. Gwen is once again faced with public scrutiny and is seemingly in a no-win situation, but that's what makes this series so unpredictable. I can't see a way out of her predicament because there isn't really a way out of it. Yet Gwen somehow finds a way to go on. I'm telling you, if I were in her situation, I would have thrown in the towel a long time ago and just given up. But Gwen doesn't do that, primarily because of her children, and that's why I love her character so much. She's Cersei Lannister, but without the cruelty.
I saw the most character growth in this installment from Connor. In Killman Creek, I found his character annoyingly childish (...that's possibly unfair since he is a child). In Wolfhunter River, his growth is obvious and I was so proud! He has clearly learned from his mistakes and he seems to have learned a thing or two from his kickass Mom as well. I love seeing how Connor and Lanny are growing up and becoming more savvy. I can't wait to see the type of adults they will become.
Not only are the kids learning from Gwen, but they are also finding out that they are stronger together, as a family unit. This installment saw them stick together and fight common enemies, rather than fighting amongst themselves. They have also welcomed Sam into the family. Every time Sam referred to the children as his children I got totally lost in my feelings. Wolfhunter River showed all four of them working as a cohesive family unit, having each other's backs, and forgiving each other's faults. Bless.
I usually prefer larger series arcs to the more episodic plots of individual installments, but this time was different. The over arching plot of Gwen's life is so tragic that it was nice to lose myself in the details of Ellie White's kidnapping and the other mysterious goings on of Wolfhunter. The end of Wolfhunter River seems to be opening a new door in Gwen's life and I think it paves the way for future installments to resemble this one.
Now that there are three installments out, it's the perfect time for you to hear this series while waiting for the fourth. I overwhelmingly recommend the series, but I do understand if it's not exactly binge-able, due to the high intensity. The writing is incredible and it's not exactly graphic, but it does deal with some pretty heavy stuff. Don't worry if you need to take a break and hear something ligher in between installments.
Narration review: The number one reason I recommend this series is the narration. Starting with the second book, three new narrators are introduced to voice Sam, Lanny, and Connor. The fact that they brought in four narrators for the audiobooks, when they could have easily had the primary narrator continue to voice all of the characters, shows the confidence the publishers have in this series and it is not without reason. Going the extra mile to ensure a well produced and excellently narrated audiobook has vastly improved the listening experience. The cast of narrators do a wonderful job of handling the POV switch offs and this series is proof that multiple POVs should be handled by multiple narrators. If you are going to give this series a try, do so on audio!♣︎