Review: 'The Silver Circle', by Kyell Gold
Kyell Gold wrote The Silver Circle as his first entry into the paranormal romance genre. As such, it is not a category-anthropomorphic novel as much as a category-werewolf novel, or a category-transformation novel. But it is Furry enough to please most anthro fans.
Valerie Creighton, a mid-level career businesswoman in her mid-thirties, has just had a mini-nervous breakdown. She is recently divorced from her husband who never did support her; she is trapped at a large corporation where she watches men all rise to executive positions above her; and when one more big account is handed to somebody else (male), she blows up at a company conference and rants until she gets a nosebleed. Martin, her supervisor who, despite not promoting her, clearly does not want to lose her, suggests that she take two weeks leave to relax, and even offers to let her use his vacation cabin at Lake Wahya.
Val, who is taking her maiden name of Michaels back, arrives at the lakeside grocery store just in time to encounter two unusual men; a taciturn older man with a thick Eastern European accent and a silver ring on his middle left finger, and a handsome man about her own age whom the storekeeper clearly does not trust. The next day, kayaking out to a little island in the midst of the lake, she finds the just-killed body of the older man with his throat torn out, and the other man dying with two silver-headed arrows in him.
This is a mature content book. Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher’s advisory)
The man, Breaker, gasps for her to call on the moon, Mother Moon, to save him. Bewildered, she does, and as she does she is able to easily pull the arrows out of him. He asks her to keep quiet about him, which she agrees to do until she can find out more about what is going on.
She does report the death of the man with his throat torn out. He turns out to be Anton Vojacek, who had been called in with his brother Karol by the local police to kill whatever wild animal had torn out the throats of two woman tourists. It is pretty obvious to Val that the locals are trying to hush up the deaths to avoid scaring off the tourist trade, and that they are privately convinced that Breaker and “his people”, a Native American tribe, are werewolves.
While most of the locals heavy-handedly try to persuade Val to cut her vacation short and leave, Anton’s brother Karol asks her to help him kill the werewolf. He and Anton are Professionals (professional whats? whatever is necessary), and they travel about the world killing werewolves.
They befoul the land with their very nature. Their perverse magic saps the strength of the surrounding wilderness. Could you but hear the plants, you would hear their cries for help every time the moon is full and the waste gathers strength. (p. 46)
As she starts to investigate, Val is personally attacked by a huge, savage black wolf.
The Silver Circle is roughly divided into two parts. In the first, Val must learn who is really behind the killings; Breaker of Ground and his people, or the enigmatic Eastern European brothers who clearly have some kind of magic of their own. Since this is a paranormal romance and there are numerous references about how handsome Breaker is, it is not giving too much away to reveal that Breaker is being framed, but that he really is a werewolf. So instead of Gold’s usual Furry gay sex, you get an erotic scene of uninhibited sex between a human woman and her paramour in his Furry form. The big questions are who the Vojaceks really are, what they have against werewolves, and how Val and Breaker can fight Karol.
Val is slightly unconvincing as a lone heroine who, confronted with one body and a stranger with two arrows in him, does not call the authorities but decides to investigate herself; even forcing Breaker to accept her help when he tries to insist that she not get involved. On the other hand, she is admirably forceful in demanding to be told what is going on.
All her years in the city told her to let him [Leon, the grocer] close up, to take the chili and go. But she had other instincts, from a career in business dominated by men, and that was when a man told her that it wasn’t her problem in that patronizing tone, that there was something behind what he said. (p. 55)
I have never cared for the mysteries where the characters who know what’s going on reply to questions with obvious non sequiturs, or who say only, “The time has not yet come to reveal that secret.” If you like women’s romances that include lots of man-into-wolf-into-man-into-wolf furriness, and the sylvan wilderness of the upstate New York area, then you will enjoy The Silver Circle.
- o0o - - o0o - - o0o - - o0o - - o0o - - o0o - - o0o - - o0o - - o0o - - o0o - - o0o - - o0o -
It’s 1960. I am 19 years old. I’ve just mail-ordered a new werewolf novel from Arkham House; Invaders from the Dark, by Greye La Spina. Although I don’t know it, this is the first book publication of a serial from Weird Tales, April-June 1925.
But it is immediately obvious that this is a very Victorian horror-romance fantasy. It was doubtlessly old-fashioned in 1925. I was chuckling at how quaint it was as I read the following scene:
‘Aunt Sophie!’ she [Portia Differdale, the heroine] cried with fire. ‘If I’m going to be engaged to Owen, I’m not going to hide it from the world as if I were ashamed of our love. I won’t carry on a clandestine love affair. No, no! There must be another way.’ (Invaders from the Dark, p. 49)
My Grandmother, who was nearby, asked me what was so amusing. I told her how ridiculous this was; that the heroine sees a Russian countess who is really a werewolf about to seduce the clueless hero whom she secretly loves, but she can’t warn him because it wouldn’t be socially proper due to the fact that she is supposed to be in mourning for her late husband.
Oh, boy! To use a phrase that my Grandmother would have washed my mouth out with soap over, she spent the rest of the afternoon (it felt like) ripping me out a new one. OF COURSE no proper lady could talk freely to a gentleman to whom she had only casually been introduced! No, not even if she really loves him. No, not even to save his life! She would be socially ruined; worse, he could never respect her! She dare not be alone with him without a chaperone. Etc., etc., at considerable length. I got a good education on proper Victorian etiquette and deportment that afternoon.
I could not help remembering Invaders from the Dark and that tongue-lashing all during reading The Silver Circle. I’m afraid that my Grandmother would never have considered Valerie Creighton/Michaels a lady at all. A female, admittedly, but no Lady! (Well, no Lady would ever get divorced in the first place.) To be fair, Gold never calls Valerie a lady. “Female human protagonist” is his term. And The Silver Circle contains the f-word and the s-word. No, it was never meant for readers like my Grandmother. (Not that she would ever have read anything as unladylike as a werewolf novel, as long as she lived.)