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Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy
Contemporary fiction

Once There Were Wolves

by Charlotte McConaghy

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, Icon_Psychological


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_ForbiddenLove

    Forbidden love

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Whodunit


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Rugged



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.

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Content warning

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

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Once There Were Wolves.

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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Member ratings (21,436)

  • Alexis A.

    Birmingham, AL

    Both Hauntingly beautiful and heart wrenching, this is definitely going to be a standout of the year for me. It’s about preserving nature, pain, hurt & finding the wildness in us. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️\5

  • Jenifer C.

    Lisbon, OH

    Loved! There was such a reasonable explanation that gave an “oh my goodness” and “woah” factor to the end. I was so into the characters that I couldn’t put it down and felt so many emotions throughout

  • Suzanne M.

    Saugatuck, MI

    I didn’t think it was possible for a thriller to be beautiful. I loved the magical realism feel the wolves and some of the characters brought to the storyline. It’s been awhile I truly “❤️” a book.

  • Annette M.

    Springfield, PA

    My first of McConaghy’s stories and I truly enjoyed it. It’s been awhile since I had that pull to read a story w/o stopping…a page turner with heart, love and soul…a must read. Migrations on my TBR!

  • Rebecca C.

    Wichita Falls, TX

    10/10!! The narrative from instinctual to “civilized” thinking, or primal to more “educated” thoughts/actions are in all of us! We are all animals capable of anything, and it depicts that beautifully!