Wolf Man, the fourth novel in Brampton, Ontario, writer Edo van Belkom’s Wolf Pack series, begins with an attack that has dangerous repercussions for the inhabitants – human, animal, and in-between – of Redstone, B.C. and its surrounding forests. Driven by winter hunger, a wolf pack led by a recently created werewolf raids the rabbit hutches belonging to trapper Ernie Ilson, killing the man’s beloved dog in the process.
The presence of the hungry, seemingly fearless wolves so close to town incites the residents to fury; they push for the opportunity to purge all the wolves from the forests by force. Only forest ranger Garrett Brock stands between the gun-toting locals and their revenge. Brock has a vested interest, however. In addition to his conservation duties, he’s trying to protect a separate wolf pack, one made up of the four changeling children he adopted as babies after finding them in the forest in their wolf forms.
Now teenagers, the four were-siblings are balancing the worst of both worlds: high school pressures and the demands of their unique natures. Van Belkom does an admirable job of balancing both sets of concerns and their inherent perils, from problems with math class to gun-happy drunken trappers. When one of the wolf pack is caught in the crossfire, it’s compassion and caring that save the day, rather than violence.
As the Wolf Pack series lengthens, the books have increasing difficulty standing on their own. Wolf Man can be read independently, but it carries a lot of baggage from the other titles (including the creation of the pack leader, which occurred in the previous book), and new readers would be well-advised to start at the beginning of the series, with the Silver Birch- and Aurora-winning Wolf Pack. That’s no hardship, though – the more time spent in Redstone with the pack, the better.