Silver
by Rhiannon Held
Reviewed by Eileen Wiedbrauk

Writers like Patricia Briggs and Kelley Armstrong have taught us that wolf pack politics is a tricky thing—one part subtle machinations and two parts brute force. Rhiannon Held continues in this tradition with her debut novel Silver.

The urban fantasy Silver has a certain grit and intelligence to it which is apparent from the get-go. Someone has performed unspeakable acts of experimentation and torture on an entire pack of werewolves, systematically burning them with silver and injecting it into their veins. The only werewolf to escape is a young woman who’s retreated so far into herself, she can’t recall her own name and adopts the moniker Silver. Andrew Dare, a pack enforcer, tracks Silver down when she crosses his pack’s territory. Andrew expects to have to meet the stray werewolf with violence and threats, instead he meets the half-crazy, rambling, injured Silver, which sets Andrew down the track of finding the person who hurt her and killed her pack. But first he has to find out who Silver really is and where she came from.

The narration switches back and forth between Silver’s and Andrew’s points of view. In Silver’s sections, the rendering of her madness is beautifully poetic. The toxic silver in her veins, or perhaps something else, causes her to see and hold long conversations with a wolf-shaped manifestation of Death—a sassy character who gets to deliver some of the best lines in the book. Silver interprets the world around her simply, with an almost fairy tale sort of logic, but her obscured view of the world often lets her see more truth than those who have their wits fully about them.

Andrew’s harsh lens on reality serves as a counterpoint to Silver’s poetic madness. Andrew is all business, action, and contradiction: he’s strong enough to be alpha, but doesn’t want the job; he is part of a pack, but lives outside of it; his history filled with death and violence, yet he shows more compassion than the werewolves around him. And it’s his monstrous reputation that continually stands in the way of his—most werewolves fear Andrew, and some even think he’s the only one capable of torturing and killing an entire pack.

Circumstances eventually turn Andrew into Silver’s unlikely champion, but Andrew’s survival will ultimately depend on whether or not Silver can battle her way back to sanity long enough to be his savior.

The relationship between the roughneck and the damaged-but-tough girl is reminiscent of the dynamic between Korben Dallas and Leeloo in The Fifth Element. Both pairs of characters are ready for a fight, have each other’s backs, yet at times frustrate each other more than anything else.

The storyline sweeps from one side of the continent to the other. We get a limited grounding on the east coast, but get to experience a lot of the scenery and details of the northern, Pacific west. The cast of characters seems overlarge at times but is doubtlessly in place as set up for further Andrew/Silver adventures.

Silver is the kind of novel that makes me wish the entire series was out right now, as I’d gladly devour Andrew and Silver’s entire journey one after another.