When reading a contemporary werewolf story, generally one’s first thought isn’t “I love the multi-layered allegorical resonances,” but that’s what I came away with from Lundoff’s Silver Moon (originally published 2012 by Lethe Press but now reissued as one of the initial offerings of Queen of Swords Press).
Becca Thornton’s quiet life in the rural town of Wolf’s Point seems likely to be troubled only by the occasional tiresome contact from her ex-husband until three experiences intersect at once: the first stirrings of menopause, an unexpected attraction to the woman next door, and turning into a werewolf. Fortunately, the local women’s club is there to walk her through her lycanthropic initiation into their not-so-secret inner circle. Wolf’s Point has a long tradition of calling on women of a certain age to join the supernatural protectors of the town and its surrounds.
Becca is distracted from her uncertainty about this new stage of her life (heck, about all three new stages) by the incursion of a cult-like group of werewolf hunters, though their methods and opinions are more suggestive of gay conversion “therapy”--a parallel that is no more likely to be coincidence than any of the other thematic resonances.
Lundoff’s writing style is delightfully smooth and transparent, letting the story itself take the wheel. She evokes both the delights and annoyances of small town life--especially for a character who will be a newcomer however long she lives there--and mirrors them in the struggle to integrate into the alien dynamics of a werewolf pack that Becca seems to have had no choice in joining. This makes the thriller-style plot involving “conversion therapy” entirely believable as Becca is tempted by the possibility of “being normal again”. Conversely, the romantic subplot never raises such questions, only the standard anxieties around an unexpected attraction and the complexities of exploring it when everything else in your life is turned upside down.
I liked the overall pacing and how the various plot strands, both dramatic and humorous, were braided together. In an era when the “sexy dom/sub werewolf soulmate” plot seems to have taken over shapeshifter fiction, Silver Moon is a breath of fresh air: just a complex personal story of a woman going through The Changes. All of them.