Inside the Wolf: A Novel
A subtle book about returning home to histories,memories and myth. Rachel's story will resonate with anyone who grew up in a small town. ~Michelle
A haunting, "exquisitely written" novel that explores the true costs of tradition, gun ownership, masculinity, and Southern mythmaking through the lens of an accidental shooting that reverberates across generations (Fiona McFarlane, author of The Night Guest).
“A vital Southern novel that speaks to a violent American legacy.” —The New York Times Book Review
Rachel Ruskin never intended to return to her family’s tobacco farm in Shiloh, North Carolina. But when a love affair and her academic career studying Southern folklore in New York City both flame out, she has no choice. Back in her hometown in the wake of family loss, she is alone, haunted by memories of the long-ago accidental shooting death of a childhood friend, an unexplained dead wolf in her backyard, and Shiloh’s buried history of racism and violence.
Rachel tries to connect with Jewel, her late brother’s girlfriend, to build a relationship with her baby niece, Lyric. And the curious young children, Tom and Lily, who live down the road, like to keep her company. Even a flirty rekindling with her neighbor Tobias might finally make her feel part of the community. But still, she can’t escape the whispers from the town.
When another tragic incident occurs, however, Rachel can no longer avoid confronting her own past wrongs; nor can she continue to hold herself apart from her community. How can the people of Shiloh reconcile their love of hunting and their belief in tradition with the loss of more children? How can she find a way back to those she grew up loving? Drawn back into the rhythms of Shiloh and in search of a place to belong, Rachel must question everything she grew up believing and at the same time find a way to accept those around her.
Immersive, fierce, and urgently topical, Inside the Wolf is also, ultimately, a page-turning and redemptive novel that interrogates the mythology of the American past.
Praise for Inside the Wolf: A Novel
"Devastating and moving. An unsparing glimpse into a community fractured by its troubled past; a story populated by those seeking salvation from the traumas that haunt them. This is a novel that stuck with me long after I’d finished reading."—Nathan Harris, author of The Sweetness of Water
"At once elegiac and hopeful, Inside the Wolf is a raw, moving meditation on the dangerous myths we make as families and communities. A wise book, exquisitely written."
—Fiona McFarlane, author of The Night Guest and The Sun Walks Down
"There may or may not be wolves in North Carolina but they haunt Rachel, the narrator and, finally, the heroine of Inside the Wolf. I love the cunning structure of this novel and the wonderful intelligence with which Amy Rowland explores what it means to live in a place where everyone knows your past. I couldn’t wait to see what her richly imagined characters would do next."—Margot Livesey, author of The Boy in the Field
“Inside the Wolf is a compulsively readable meditation on regret, grief, and the love/hate relationship so many of us have with our home-places. Rowland’s tight, propulsive prose carries us to a brilliantly realized place that examines concepts of history, myth, and folklore through the lens of a complex, endearing main character. This novel is hard to put down and stays with you long after the last page is turned.”—Silas House, author of Lark Ascending
"A cycle of “history, suffering, shame, again” rattles through “Inside the Wolf,” Amy Rowland’s wrenching sophomore novel, set in Shiloh, N.C....Ghost stories and folksy tales, as well as novels, embody a history worth exploring. If the truth is subject to debate, perhaps we’re only left with stories to set us free. “Inside the Wolf” is a vital Southern novel that speaks to a violent American legacy."—New York Times Book Review
“Rowland has the ability to capture large issues and emotions, and distill them into the perfect poetic, lyrical sentences, creating a read that is as natural as it is necessary.”—Southern Review of Books
“Amy Rowland uses a sorrowful woman’s journey to demonstrate how generations of “telling ourselves ghost stories about history we can’t face” has helped perpetuate a culture of gun violence. It’s a thought-provoking argument that delivers “Inside the Wolf’s” larger message — there are no easy answers at the complex intersection of identity and the stories people tell themselves to survive.”—Atlanta Journal-Constitution