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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
The First Wolf Pack: A Dog's Fable by J. Daniel Reed is a historical and philosophical tale that traces the history of the human and canine relationship and how this has contributed to the shaping of human civilization. Bingley is the contemporary canine storyteller of the first wolf pack that features the exploits of Arn and Versa, powerful wolves that used to be adversaries but are now forced to work together if they are to survive. Together, they become formidable, and they impart their knowledge and skills to their offspring to continue their dominance and keep enemies at bay. Bingley, as the narrator, exudes a tone of pride for, despite being born from a long line of English terriers, he claims to possess identical genetics to Canis lupus.
The First Wolf Pack reminds me of Paul Auster's Timbuktu in the way J. Daniel Reed presents a narrative that doesn't make use of anthropomorphism but prefers to rely on strong realism in Bingley's carefully-drawn voice. It's an intelligent method, and it works because an animal storyteller is a huge welcome for its uniqueness in the first-person POV of usually human characters in fiction. Reed explores the very essence of wolfness and dogness. You almost feel like crawling on all fours as the book is rich in the basic instincts that have shaped canine evolution and what made us humans fall in love with them. He has written something different. Is it an allegory of the human condition? Partially. What the book succeeds in doing and why I highly recommend it is its powerful presentation of what a wolf's life could be, and how a dog narrator enables you to savor the sights, smells and sounds from his perspective.