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Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

Contemporary fiction

Once There Were Wolves

by Charlotte McConaghy

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Quick Take

A woman journeys to Scotland determined to save the wilderness—but tragedy bites just as her new life starts to settle.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Psychological

    Psychological

  • Illustrated icon, Forbidden_Love

    Forbidden love

  • Illustrated icon, Whodunit

    Whodunit

  • Illustrated icon, Rugged

    Rugged

Synopsis

Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but Aggie, too, unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska.

Inti is not the woman she once was, either, changed by the harm she’s witnessed—inflicted by humans on both the wild and each other. Yet as the wolves surprise everyone by thriving, Inti begins to let her guard down, even opening herself up to the possibility of love. But when a farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept her wolves could be responsible, Inti makes a reckless decision to protect them. But if the wolves didn’t make the kill, then who did? And what will Inti do when the man she is falling for seems to be the prime suspect?

Propulsive and spell-binding, Charlotte McConaghy's Once There Were Wolves is the unforgettable story of a woman desperate to save the creatures she loves—if she isn’t consumed by a wild that was once her refuge.

Content warning

This book contains plot points about and depictions of violence and sexual assault.

Why I love it

It's so rewarding to encounter a book that not only propels you forward with plot—I need to find out what happens!—but simultaneously makes you feel for and think deeply about the lives on the page. Charlotte McConaghy has done just that in this evocative novel that asks big questions about our responsibility to others, not only the people around us, but the animals and nature with which we share this earth.

The story is narrated by Inti Flynn, a biologist leading a project to rewild Scotland's Cairngorms National Park with wolves. She arrives, with her twin sister Aggie, to find the locals not entirely welcoming to the project's endeavor. Just as things are starting to look up for the wolves and for Inti, conflicts deepen both within the town and within Inti herself. A farmer turns up dead in the woods and it's unclear who or what is to blame. Inti wants nothing more than for the wolves to survive and thrive, but traumas from her and Aggie's past continue to haunt them. Who can she trust? Who needs her protection? How can she ensure not only her own safety, but the safety of those she loves?

McConaghy writes landscapes—both external and internal—beautifully. When I finished this book, I felt more alert and awake to the world around me. That's the kind of reading experience I think we all need more of.

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Contemporary fiction
View all
The Last Love Note
Anita de Monte Laughs Last
The Leftover Woman
Interesting Facts about Space
Bye, Baby
Swan Song
How to Read a Book
The Connellys of County Down
Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life
A Summer Affair
Adelaide
The Collected Regrets of Clover
Evil Eye
Maame
Advika and the Hollywood Wives
Once There Were Wolves
We Are the Brennans
Olga Dies Dreaming
If Only I Could Tell You
How Lucky
My Dark Vanessa
Nine Perfect Strangers
Honey Girl
One Italian Summer
Eight Hundred Grapes
The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes
The Five-Star Weekend
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
The Nest
Rich and Pretty
Britt-Marie Was Here
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Startup
The Identicals
The Dinner List
Goodbye, Paris
Winter in Paradise
A Woman Is No Man
Queenie
Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Beyond the Point
What Happens in Paradise
Nothing to See Here
When We Were Vikings
Anxious People
A Good Neighborhood
Big Summer
The Last Story of Mina Lee
Troubles in Paradise
White Ivy
This Close to Okay
The Removed
The Kindest Lie
Good Company
Impostor Syndrome
The Other Black Girl
Apples Never Fall
A Quiet Life
We Are the Light
The Fortunes of Jaded Women
When We Were Bright and Beautiful
The Hotel Nantucket