Kern is a shapeshifter, sometimes human, sometimes wolf - but always on the run. He doesn't know why he changes, only that he can, and that when people discover the truth about him, he's on the run again. The book opens with Kern fleeing for his life from a feragh, a hellish creature created by the dark magic of a harper. He barely escapes, and his battered, severely injured body is discovered miles downriver by Ainsy, an attractive young innkeeper, and her brother.
Kern becomes friends with Ainsy and her friends and family members, and they invite him to stay for the winter. He is sorely tempted, even though he knows that sooner or later his secret will come out. For the first time in his life, it seems he has a chance of attaining his heart's desire, especially as Ainsy seems to return his feelings. But when word of a harper reaches them, one whose songs are said to be "magically" wonderful, Kern realizes that trouble has followed him once again.
I'm puzzled why my library has categorized this book as a young adult novel. The protagonists are in their twenties, and the first young adult novel de Lint wrote came years later, with The Dreaming Place. Maybe because of its shorter length? It might appeal to young adults, but so would many other fantasy novels.
This book is a departure from de Lint's Newford, urban-fantasy stories. This is set in a rather generic fantasy world, and the story is rather plain and straightforward compared with de Lint's longer, more complex later novels. But the characters spring to life, telling a story that is simple and lyrical as a ballad.
Wolf Moon by Charles de Lint (Firebird, 1988)