Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road. The little boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the little boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the little boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
Ox was seventeen when he found out the little boy’s secret and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.
It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.
Green Creek is a small town, but it's the only place Ox knows as home. When a new family moves in next door, Ox finds out there is more to his friends than meets the eye.
I received a free copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
The story follows Ox Matheson from a kid through to adulthood. He's the sweetest guy, but since his dad abandoned them, Ox has been under the impression that he's not good enough. Although it's just him and his mum, Ox starts to learn that family doesn't have to mean blood-relatives. First, when he starts working for the local garage, and bonds with the other guys.
Then when the Bennett family move in next door, Ox gets a different type of pack.
Ox is neurodiverse, and I loved how faithfully the narrative stayed in keeping with that. It was wonderful to see things the way Ox does. The fear of being different, and not always being able to read signals and social cues that seem so easy for others. Linked with his issues with his father abandoning him, Ox finds it hard to trust that people like him, and will stick around.
Throughout the book, Ox is a beacon of innocent goodness and hope. He finds so much beauty in the world around him.
Then there's the werewolves. Honestly, I think this would be a great book without the supernatural element - but werewolves always makes things better!
There is an instant shift in dynamics when the Bennett family move in - they are big, and boisterous, connect with the quite Ox so quickly, him and his mum are soon part of the pack.
It was heartwarming watching Ox realise how big his family really is. He's just so accepting of everyone, and always sees that best in those around him.
The main romantic aspect took a while to get going, which is a good thing. Joe recognises Ox as his mate when they are 10 and 16 respectively.
Ox isn't aware of this - he and Joe become best friends, until Joe grows up and Ox starts to notice him in a different light.
The age difference, and growing up together, made it a little awkward at first, but it ends up being really sweet. They take things slowly, but there's this connection between them, you know they're endgame.
Plot wise, I wasn't totally sold on the necessity of Joe leaving Green Creek on his mission. I thought it was too long and it was hard to believe he'd leave his home and family.
On the other hand, time apart allowed Ox to really mature and come into his own. I loved Ox's side of the story, and was cheering for him throughout.
I really enjoyed this book, and I'm looking forward to the next one in the series.