Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

Published: 2021 1. First lines. 2. Cover: Penguin 3. Cairngorms [Public Domain] via Pixabay 4. Wolf [Public Domain] via Pixnio 5. Wolf [Public Domain] via Pxhere 6. Wolf [Public Domain] via Wikimedia

Inti and her twin sister Aggie move to Scotland, where Inti is the lead biologist in a rewilding program, freeing fourteen wolves into the Cairngorms National Park. Nearby sheep farmers are nervous about their flocks being in danger from the wolves, and when a wolf is shot, tensions rise. Then a farmer is found dead, the local people blame the wolves, and Inti is very defensive. Another thread to the story is the twin sisters’ personal lives. Aggie is in a depressive state due to a violent past that renders her speechless, and Inti has a neurological condition called “mirror touch synesthesia” (she feels the sensations experienced by those she observes, for example, she feels the pain of another person being injured).

There are languages without words and violence is one of them.”

Glanceabook: “From the very beginning of this story the reader is engaged with the themes of conservation, and with the characters’ troubled relationships. The descriptions of wolf behaviour and the processes involved with rewilding are fascinating and based on real programs of conservation. As a reader, though, I feel that the dramas involving the main characters dominate the story about the wolves.”

  • Kirkus: “A lovely, gripping tale about a world that could be our own..”
  • Washington Independent Review of Books: “Once There Were Wolves is a thoughtful, enjoyable book, every bit as readable as Migrations. In it, Charlotte McConaghy has once again created a world where we must balance trust and fear, humanity and nature. That she can do so with such spellbinding skill makes me excited for where she might take us next.”


“When the wolves begin to hunt the deer, the deer will return to what deer are meant to do, they’ll start to move again. Everything underfoot will have a chance to grow. Life breathed back into the land. You’ll see your hill turn green.”

“The people here are good people, and they work hard. I don’t like to see them scared. Fear makes for danger, whether there to begin with, or not.”

“Rewilding is how we fight climate change.”

“We’re talking about conservation, about saving the planet, we have to start with the predators. Because if we can’t save the predators, we’ve got no chance of saving anything else.”

Author: Charlotte McConaghy

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