Fantasy Fiction With the Perfect Mix of Magic and Romance

The Green Creek series by TJ Klune

Fantasy Fiction With the Perfect Mix of Magic and Romance
Image: Goodreads

The Green Creek Series by TJ Klune

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t very impressed when I read the blurb of Wolfsong — the first in TJ Klune’s four-book fantasy fiction series, Green Creek.

It sounded like yet another half-baked attempt at creating werewolves, which would ultimately turn out to be romance filled with page after page of teenage angst — a belief cemented by Stephenie Meyer and L. J. Smith (authors of The Twilight Saga and Vampire Diaries respectively).

The only reason I decided to give the book a try was that I had recently finished reading The House on the Cerulean Sea by the same author and had loved the story immensely. There was something special in TJ Klune’s writing. He created characters that felt more real than most authors and was adept at describing scenes that filled your heart with warmth.

And so, I delved right in.

I started reading the book at 1 AM — some “light reading” before going to bed.

It was a mistake.

The story drew me in so strongly; I couldn’t stop until the first part was over. When I looked at the time again, it was past 4.30 AM, birds already starting to chirp outside my window.

I was tired, my eyelids heavy with sleep, but my heart was pounding. I was only thirteen chapters in, but I was in love with the characters. I wanted to know what happened next.

Within the next two weeks, I finished the rest of the three books and could almost feel this pain in my chest — the hollow of not being able to wait till October 13, 2020, when the final book in the series, Brothersong, would be released.

There’s a saying by Paulo Coelho that goes-

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

I wanted to read Brothersong so bad; my desire must have manifested into a Tweet by the author that I saw the next morning. He said the final draft of the book was ready and he was looking for 75 book bloggers from all over the world to send a copy in exchange for a review.

I am not a book blogger. I don’t even have a Bookstagram page. But, I wanted to read the book so much, I applied.

Imagine my happiness when I checked my email the next day and saw a message from the author himself. Attached, was an ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) of the final book in the series.

There were tears in my eyes when I held my Kindle and looked at the first page. It was an indescribable happy feeling — to be able to read something the rest of the world would get more than a month later. I devoured the book in three days, and here I am — head still reeling over how amazingly captivating the whole series was.

I could write at least a hundred reasons why you should read Green Creek. For starters, here are five aspects that make this series stand out and what you would be missing out on if you gave the books a pass.

The Multiple Sub-Plots

We meet Oxnard Matheson in Wolfsong. He lives in the small town of Green Creek and is a lost twelve-year-old boy whose father just left. His last words to Ox were that he wasn’t smart enough and that he would get shit all his life. Carrying the hurt and betrayal like a shield, Ox wields his way through his gloomy world until he meets Joe Bennett, a ten-year-old boy who tells him he smells like candy canes and pine cones and epic and awesome. And that Ox wasn’t allowed to decide his worth because, clearly, he didn’t know that he was worth everything.

We meet Gordo Livingstone, Ox’s father-figure with a grumpy exterior and a secret dark enough to shatter the world as it is. Gordo is strong and dependable, but Ox sees fear in his eyes when he mentions that Joe Bennett has come to town. What is it about the laughing ten-year-old that terrified Gordo so? Turns out, the Livingstones have a tumultuous history with the Bennets — something that is revealed over the course of the four books. It is a history of love and betrayal, murder and revenge. A past full of so much blood, that the memories are enough to shatter Ox’s heart.

We meet Robbie Fontaine, who has only wanted to belong to someplace, someone. He meets Ox when Gordo and Joe are gone, and falls in love with the boy who has now grown into a man strong enough to hold his own. But everything in his life is set to change when he kisses Ox on the dirt road next to the forest. The next thing he knows, his home and everything he holds dear is snatched away from him — stolen by a man whose heart has been twisted by the insane desire for revenge.

Photo by Andras Vas on Unsplash

Werewolves, Witches, and Humans

Klune’s magical world has werewolves who can shift at will, but feel the pull of the moon on full moon nights when they have to abandon all else and run with their pack, howling their songs at the sky.

It is fascinating how the dynamics in a wolf pack are introduced — with the Alpha, Betas and Omegas playing their own part. The world of Green Creek has so many intricate details; the narrative almost feels real. The mating habits of the wolves are described in detail, as is their behaviour when threatened, teased, or tempted. There is consistency and a whole lot of foreshadowing which play up superbly to the amazingly-crafted climax.

Another exciting addition to Klune’s wolf packs are the witches who guard the territory and keep the young cubs from danger. Witches can’t shift, but their heart is more wolf than man. If a witch falls in love with a wolf, the relationship and power dynamics take on a whole new level of intrigue.

Photo by matan elihay on Unsplash

Queer Representation

There is a joke running among the residents of Green Creek that the Bennett pack is “the gayest pack that has ever existed.”

All the Bennet brothers have a lover of the same gender. Each book in the series takes time to develop the love stories of the brothers, and each is different and heart-warming in its own way.

Wolfsong is the story of infatuation turned to love, of a relationship that blossoms over seven years, to finally culminate into our lead pair of Ox and Joe.

Ravensong is the story of everything that kept Gordo away from the only man he ever loved — Mark. Their chemistry is full of sparks that fly off the pages and makes the reader want to jump right in and give these two a shake, to tell them to stop wasting time and claim the happiness they so deserve.

Heartsong is the story of Robbie and Kelly, who are soulmates from the moment they set their eyes on each other. They get together, build a world of their own, and fill it with so much laughter; it makes your heart ache. And then, this whole world is torn apart when Robbie’s memories are stolen, and he has to fight his way back to the love of his life, who is now a stranger all over again.

Brothersong is about Carter and Gavin, and their angsty, slow-burn love that burns so bright, it’s almost like staring into the sun. Theirs is not an easy story, and when they finally get together, you are terrified to turn the next page, worried about what force might appear to break the two apart.

There is asexual and aromatic representation as well, and none of these feels forced. The stories flow like butter, each more fulfilling than the last.

Here is a line from the author TJ Klune’s Goodreads bio-

Being queer himself, TJ believes it’s important — now more than ever — to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.

I suppose this honesty that stems from personal experience is what makes the romance in the books feel so real, so genuine.

Photo by Honey Fangs on Unsplash

Unforgettable Characters

TJ Klune has the amazing knack of creating characters so real, they feel like your friends, rather than the result of somebody’s imagination.

The struggles they face, the battles they win, all that they lose and everything that keeps them going will tug at your heartstrings and make you care for them as if your life depends on it. There is no escaping it — you’re going to love the Green Creek men!

Aside from the protagonists, even the side characters are fleshed out so well; your heart will be at your throat at each battle scene, your fingers crossed tightly against your chest hoping that no one dies. Each of them has a distinct backstory, one that endears the reader to them and justifies their actions thoroughly. At times, you find yourself making excuses for them when they do something none of the rest of the characters seems to appreciate.

There are so many layers to each of the characters that the first books leave you with a lot of questions: What happened to Joe that made him stop talking to everyone for fifteen months? Is Gavin really ignorant of his past or is there something in his head preventing him from realising his true identity? If Gordo hates the Bennetts so much, why did he agree to help Joe shift without a second thought?

I blame these (and several others) for keeping me up half the night to know what happens next.

Photo by Leo Foureaux on Unsplash

Great Writing

There is something magical in TJ Klune’s writing. One moment, you will have tears in your eyes at something that happened, and the very next, you will be laughing out loud at a joke one of the Bennett brothers made. I suppose this seamless shift in tone is what separates a great book from a good one.

There are points where the writing seems almost lyrical, with the author coming up with powerful quotes to stay with you a lifetime.

Here are a few of my favourite lines:

“I needed to see him. To make sure he was okay. To tell him how sorry I was. That I never wanted to leave him. That I never wanted to be anywhere but by his side. All I ever wanted was to keep him safe. Ever since that first day on the road, when he spoke and moved like a little tornado, all I ever wanted was to make sure nothing ever happened to Joe Bennett. He was coming for me.”
“So he pressed his forehead against mine and breathed me in and there was that sun, okay? That sun between us, that bond that burned and burned and burned because he’d given it to me. Because he’d chosen me. And I got to choose him back.”
“I googled “what to do when your future werewolf mate/boyfriend/best friend courts you and brings you a dead rabbit.” First, there was a lot of porn. Then I found a recipe for Maltese rabbit stew. It was delicious. The stew, not the porn. The porn was weird.”
“You know,” Carter said, “this is the point in horror movies where I usually shout at the screen for the people to not go inside the house.”
“You’re a werewolf,” I muttered. “You’re the one that’s usually waiting for the people inside the house.”
“We’re here now because we chose each other. In the end, it’s always been about choice.”

Final Thoughts

I won’t classify these books as Young Adult because that would be wrong. The characters do start out as teenagers, but over time, grow into adults who understand the bitterness life has to offer and are willing to fight through it all.

Frankly speaking, there is something to suit every reader’s taste in this series.

Edge-of-the-seat battle scenes, powerful magic to make your heart beat faster, tragedies of epic proportions, love that overcomes it all, jokes that will make you laugh until you have tears, a loving family that makes you want to hug each and every member, the dynamics of a wolf pack, the pang of unrequited love, badass female warriors, larger-than-life villains with twisted end-goals — this series has enough elements to keep you hooked through the four books.

Brothersong comes out on October 13, 2020. If you start this series now, you would have enough time to read the rest just in time for the grand release of the last instalment in this epic saga of love, loss, and heroism.

(Note: The links mentioned in this article are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase these books through these links, it will help me earn a small amount of money — at no extra cost to you. Thanks!)

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