Tom Knapp, Rambles.net:
In fantasy, there are plenty of stories which pit a lone, heroic minstrel, sometimes with some bit of magic about him, at others with only his wits and music, against some dark, evil monster.
Trust Charles de Lint to put a new spin on an old theme. In Wolf Moon, one of de Lint's earlier novels and a rare excursion for him into high fantasy, the harper Tuiloch is the black-hearted evil. The hero of the tale, the lonely wanderer Kern, is a werewolf.
Like a minstrel himself, de Lint knows just how much discord to introduce to the tune to add tension without spoiling the melody. This early tale is a prose ballad with lyrical grace, and readers will gladly pass their time by the fire as the harper strums landscapes and characters from his strings and spins the tale.
Green Man Review:
Wolf Moon is a small story, certainly. It follows a few events in the span of a few months. The people are ordinary—even the werewolf, the kimeyn, and the mage/harpist. But it is perhaps this very smallness that enables the story to tell an ancient and enormous truth in a way that is easy to hear.
Kern longs for friends, family and home, one of the deepest triads of human need. But Kern is also a werewolf, shut out of society by the incontestable fact that, in his wolf form, he can rip the throat out of a man or eat a small child. It does not matter that Kern has no desire to do such things. The mere idea that he can do them makes him dangerous in an alien, frightening way. So Kern runs from village to forest to village, never staying among people long enough to become suspect, always lonely.
Tuiloch is a harper, beloved wherever he goes. He also has no friends, family or home, but he denies any need for them. To stay anywhere long enough to make friends, to commit to a family, to build a home, would also mean staying long enough for the glamour to fade. To be loved and trusted would mean to be no longer adored, nor seen as larger than life. So Tuiloch feeds his emptiness another way: he hunts, killing and acquiring for himself animals who run wild and free. And if such an animal is also that rarer creature, a man who can shift between worlds and shapes, the hunt is all the sweeter and the acquisition all the more satisfying.
It is natural, inevitable, that Kern and Tuiloch are enemies. The hunted against the hunter. Warm heart against icy arrogance. Passionate yearning against indifference and monstrous greed. And their battlefield? An inn, of course. Inns straddle the border between the settled, human world of home/family/friends and the forest, the unknown. This inn, even more appropriately, is called The Tinker. Tinkers are folk who walk freely back and forth across the border, sharing in both worlds. For Kern, the people of The Tinker are potential allies—if he can trust them to trust him. For Tuiloch, they are pawns, traps to draw Kern to his death.
On this level, the level of conflict between good and evil, Wolf Moon is already a deep story, drawn in the starkest, simplest lines. But there is a deeper level here as well. The people of The Tinker are not only allies or pawns. They are also, each of them, people who desire, yearn, fear, and love. Ainsy runs the inn, proudly keeping them self-sufficient, secretly worrying about her wandering uncle, the old tinker himself. Wat loves Ainsy with his whole heart and gives her a brother's devotion and fierce `loyalty. Tolly and Fion are additional members of this tight family, helping Ainsy with the daily work and linking her to the larger circle of the village. When Kern joins this family, binding himself to them in love by the oldest ties of work, sweat, meals, and romantic bonds, he does not just defeat his enemy. He ends the battle and turns the battlefield into a field for the growing of the richest crop of all.
Small as a seed, this idea. Yes. But holding a truth that continually renews the world.
Charles de Lint, in this, the tenth of his books to be published, was already a master of the "small and ordinary" that lovers of his work have come to look for in everything he writes. He draws Kern with such detail that we come to identify with him and his concerns; his shapeshifting becomes simply another feature, rather than a strange, magical ability. Ainsy's independence, coupled with her romantic leanings, make us smile. Fion is so strong, resourceful and clever that we find ourselves half-wishing that she might win the notice of the hero in the end. As well, the vivid descriptions of life at the inn—the work involved in raising and storing food, making meals, keeping warm, and the rare joys of an evening spent dancing—weave a strong web to link the events of the story as they move back and forth.
From Locus Magazine, 1988:
De Lint turns in his usual highly competent performance, showing how werewolves are not necessarily evil in the same way the people are not necessarily evil. …it's an excellent read for all ages, with a message of tolerance that slips by if you're not watching carefully. De Lint has built up an impressive set of credentials in the fantasy field, and he keeps changing what he does; even though I don't know what to expect from a book of his, I expect I'm going to like it. And this one was not an exception.
From Baird Searles on Books:
De Lint tells a simple tale (with a twist or two…) quite simply. This is something of a rarity and a pleasure these days, where a great many authors seem to be trying to outdo each other in complexity and obscurity (perhaps under the misapprehension that they are committing originality). De Lint is good at creating sympathetic characters, including werewolves which makes a break from books where you have to work at figuring out whose side you're supposed to be on.
From Publishers Weekly, July 1988:
This is a smoothly told, pleasant tale benefiting from its likeable folk and the workaday world