Book Review: Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgens
I recently joined Gollancz Geeks and got a chance to read a fantastic new novel by a new author. Just to keep everything legit, you guys should know that I received a copy of Wolfhound Century free through the Gollancz Geeks program.
Wolfhound Century is the debut fantasy novel by author Peter Higgens. Well, I say it’s a fantasy novel, but you won’t find any dragons or elves in Higgens’ writing. It’s actually more of an alternate history novel with a fantasy twist. Wolfhound Century is set in a world in which heaven has gone to war, the angels are dead and the moon is broken. It begins when a police officer named Vissarion Lom is sent to the city of Mirgorod to catch a terrorist. But in this totalitarian state known as the Vlast, nothing is quite what it seems, and the creatures the people call angels might not all be dead.
Wolfhound Century is an imaginative read set in a unique world evocative of Russia in the early twentieth century. The whole novel is steeped in Russian folklore. The world is familiar but strange. Alternate history buffs will appreciate Peter Higgins’ world-building in Wolfhound Century though it bares repeating, although Mirgorod is a real city in the Ukraine, the world is definitely not Russia.
The pacing is a little slow. The chapters are choppy and, at least at the beginning, the book jumps around between various characters’ POV. I found myself struggling to remember who was who (the long Russian names probably didn’t help much), making it hard to jump right back into the story. However, once I got into the book it became quite the page turner. The only scenes that I didn’t much care for were the ones with the angel. These scenes are supposed to create a sense of foreboding, but to be honest, they left me detached. It was the scenes with Lom and his investigation that I wanted to read.
Speaking of the characters, the novel boasts some interesting, although fairly one-dimensional characters. While the terrorist Kantor has interesting elements to him, Chazia and Saffran seem like your stock villains. Meanwhile, characters I would like to have heard more from die.
As for the heroes, Lom is painted as the man with a mysterious past. He has some shades of grey which clearly kept him from rising in the police ranks as quickly as his comrades, but basically the reader is supposed to root for him. You’re also supposed to root for Maroussia, Lom’s love interest, but I found her even more problematic. We are told she is special. We keep being told she is important. She is a survivor. We also know that Lom has a crush on her, but that’s all Higgens’ tell us about her. I found her character to be a heroine and love interest, nothing more.
As I said, the book eventually becomes quite the page-turner. There are mysteries in Wolfhound Century that leave you hunting for clues, and the action-packed last third of the book in particular will keep you glued to your seat, however another problem with the novel is that it stops rather abruptly. Clearly Wolfhound Century is designed to be a series of books but it should also work as a stand-alone novel, and unfortunately some readers may be dissatisfied with the open-ending.
Having said all that, I mostly enjoyed the world Higgens’ painted. It’s certainly unlike anything else I have read before and is a wonderful debut novel. I am eager to read more books set in this fascinating world. Even with the choppy chapters and the abrupt ending, I still want to know what the angels are and whether Maroussia can open the Pollandore. I want to know if my suspicions about the world are correct. For these reasons, despite the book’s flaws, readers will eagerly anticipate book two.
Now that I’ve introduced you to the world of Wolfhound Century, Inter-Galaxy Portal has a free copy of the novel to give away. Simply click on the Rafflecopter link below for details!