Saranne Dawson demonstrates tremendous imagination and skill as she creates a fascinating and complex "lost" civilization for readers to savor. SECRETS OF THE WOLF is a tale that is at times eerie, yet always filled with passion and excitement.

For years, Amanda Lescoulans has heard her beloved Uncle Steffen talk about his research into the legend of the lost civilization of the Kassid. It is believed that the Kassid lived in close harmony with wolves, spurring the werewolf myth from their lifestyle. More than 700 years ago, catastrophic earthquakes and volcanic eruptions were said to have destroyed the Kassid people. Persistent political unrest along the lands bordering what was once the home of the Kassid has kept the area from being thoroughly explored.

Just before he is scheduled to make another expedition into the remote region, Steffen Lescoulans is brutally murdered. A grief-stricken Amanda vows to carry on his dream and join the expedition herself. While going through Steffan's papers in his isolated cabin, Amanda discovers a letter left for her by her uncle. He reveals an almost unbelievable story of swimming through a cave and finding a mysterious room that leads to a lost civilization. Because of the dream like quality of his experience, Steffan was never really sure it occurred and consequently kept silent for all these years. Now with Steffan gone, it is Amanda's turn to find the truth.

Amanda quickly realizes that someone is stalking her. On several occasions she has seen an extremely tall, handsome man watching her.; then there is the strange blue-eyed wolf that saved her life when Steffan's cabin was set ablaze.

Amanda knows the truth lies somewhere in the Shegalas mountains. Danger lurks all around for there is also menace coming from the mysterious religious order of the Sherbas. Sherbas have worshiped and guarded the Kassid for eons, and they show no hesitation in killing to protect those secrets.

(May, 365 pp., $5.50)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith