Henley is a vibrant and interesting character, which called to mind the young heroine Jennifer Lawrence played in Winter's Bone ... McHugh has written yet another first-rate literary thriller that is deeply atmospheric and driven forward by characters so real they practically jump off the pages and into your psyche. You will not soon forget The Wolf Wants In, which is one of the best character-focused stories I've read this year.
The opioid crisis creeps into every corner of America, so it’s only fitting that it spills into the literary world in a chilling and chillingly realistic new book ... she captures more than the scene and the mood [of small Midwestern towns]. She writes with authority on the unspoken rules and the social strata that are part of every town. There’s no happy ending for everyone in The Wolf Wants In, but there is hope. And in this timely tale, that’s all you can expect.
In her third novel, Laura McHugh has painted a vivid picture of Shade Tree, Kansas, its small-town wholesomeness ravaged by economic decline and the fallout from the opioid crisis ... The Wolf Wants In is focused less on crime and mysteries than on what is left behind in the wake of crimes and mysteries; the grief and the emotional burdens resulting from unexplained deaths ... Shane’s character is written with a raw and palpable commingling of love and grief, and Sadie’s memories bring him to vivid life on the page ... Although The Wolf Wants In is a crime novel with murder providing the dramatic impetus, its strength lies in its depiction of the stages of the grieving process ... Readers are left with a bittersweet hope for the characters, who have learned how 'to go on living in the face of grief and loss and disappointment, accepting moments of peace and happiness when they came.'
... intelligent ... Elegant plotting, finely honed character studies, and lyrical prose draw the women’s lives closer as Sadie and Henley deal with their own small-town ennui. This emotionally resonant tale will also appeal to literary-fiction readers.
Although terrible crimes lie at the heart of this novel, it is more sorrowful portrait of troubled families than gripping suspense; the culprits are obvious early on. Still, readers will become invested in the struggles of the well-drawn lead protagonists; the stoic and resourceful Henley will especially remind Daniel Woodrell fans of Ree Dolly, the heroine of Winter’s Bone ... Inspired by the still-unresolved sudden death of McHugh’s brother, this third novel is atmospheric grit lit with emotional depth.