Wolfhound Century – Wolfhound Century #1 – Peter Higgins
Release date: March 23rd, 2013
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Investigator Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist — and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police.
A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown insurgents with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists.
Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head.
I took a long time before I finally sat down to write this review. ‘Wolfhound Century’ had me at a loss for a very long time. I’m still not completely sure I can put in to words how I feel about this book or describe what kind of book this exactly is. For quite a large part of the book I was confused and doubtful I’d ever like it. The book started to grow on me further in, once all the pieces started falling together, but I’m not sure it’s enough to redeem the confusion I felt.
Going in to this story it’s hard to know what you’re going to get from it. It has an alternated Russian setting, but it’s difficult to figure out what exactly the book is focussing on. I have to admit that I had some trouble with this in the first half of the book. Suddenly there was this ‘Archangel intermezzo’ that had me puzzled. What was it doing there? Why was this Archangel so angry and what was its place in the story? Luckily I did get some answers to those questions later on in the book and everything nicely fell in to place at the end. I’m glad I didn’t let myself be swayed by the confusion and read on, because ultimately this turned out to be a dark, but beautifully crafted tale.
The focal point of the story is investigator Vissarion Lom, who is summoned to the capital, Mirgorod, to capture a revolutionary and terrorist. Being from outside the capital he should be a neutral player in the power struggle and corruption of the capital, but as any man with a conscience would, he gets drawn into the chaos wanting to find out what the hidden truth behind all the murky business is. Lom also has a mysterious piece of Angel Stone imbedded in his head. I was quite lost at first where the angel stone was concerned. I didn’t understand what it represented or why it was there, this all adding to the mystery of the book. Next to Lom, there is a diverse cast of fleshed out and intriguing characters that all play their own specific part in the story that Lom tries to untangle.
The story that first centred on Lom and the rebel leader, Josef Kantor, takes a turn halfway through and focuses on the daughter of Kantor’s ex-wife. Hers is also a tale full of mystery and I really enjoyed reading her part in all this.
I really liked the idea of nature being a sentient being. At one point the forest sends emissaries to ask for help and warn people of some danger that’s coming. It was particularly interesting to see the humans’ reply depicted here: one of disbelief and distrust, even anger at some point. I thought it was really striking and it resonated with me as an accurate representation of how humans in real life would respond to a situation like that.
The ending almost made up for the frustration I felt in the first half of the book. A dark, melancholic atmosphere gets a hold of you and it really draws you in to the story. I was pleasantly surprised to notice how much I’d started to enjoy the story at that point.
This is where I am conflicted. It started out doubtful but redeemed itself towards the ending. But that isn’t really how you should enjoy a story. The ideas were there, the writing was compelling and the dark and gritty background really made this an atmospheric read, but ultimately I can’t forget the first part of the story that left me lost and confused. I might pick up the second book in the series at some point, but for now it’s not very high on my list.