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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Of Ghosts and Wolves: A Wolf's Hart Novel by Ariana Hagen is the first book in the series. It introduces Sage, who has chosen to be in isolation and lives alone with only animals from the forest and mountain range as company. She hides her unique gift of seeing the ghosts of humans and animals from anyone she comes into contact with. Her years of peace are disturbed when a black wolf runs through her property followed by a mysterious stranger to whom she becomes inexplicably drawn. Each of them has a secret, but as they grow closer, their secrets will soon be exposed when threats from the past catch up with them. These secrets create a slow burn in their relationship and are part of how they challenge each other while being used to build elements of suspicion, attraction, and curiosity.
The primary focus of the story is on the relationship between Sage and Corrick. Their dynamic has several layers to it as the relationship evolves from the first meeting where Corrick is a mysterious stranger to companionable silence and then a passionate romance. Ariana Hagen slowly builds understanding between the two characters as they learn to trust each other with their deepest secrets. The story has a reflective tone as Sage often remembers the way her family was when she was a child. Rich descriptions come to life through great writing as Hagen uses simple yet beautiful language such as describing goats as a ghostly memory that haunts the lands, the bitter cold not dissipating with the rising sun, and the memories of her first winter sneaking their tendrils into her thoughts. The essence of the story is seen in the lushness of the writing, which reveals Sage's internal conflict perfectly. She views her abilities as something that brings fear and sorrow, while also relishing the knowledge she obtains and how it makes her part of the universe's collective memory. Beautifully written prose brings Of Ghosts and Wolves to life in an addictive romance with secrets, passion, charm, and ghostly presences.