Wolfhound Century is an unusual and superb book – Noir Sci-Fi thriller perhaps.
The book is set in Russia. Though it’s not the Russia you might know – it’s spellbinding and transfixing. Higgins tells a story of Investigator Vissarion Lom, who is summoned to carry out a special mission to find an enemy of peace within the core of totalitarian Vlast. Although the mission seems straightforward, yet somewhat bizarre, Inspector Lom struggles to find a substantial lead.
Vlast has been at war for a long time and the only way of survival for both sides is to end it. When time for negotiations approach, terrorist attacks wreak havoc and kill innocent citizens of Mirgorod. Lom finds help in his best friend – Raku Vishnik, a historian exiled from the academic institution – to seek an elusive and charismatic Josef Kantor.
The characters are extremely well written. They are strong – full of doomed weaknesses and extraordinary qualities, including endless perseverance to achieve their goals. Inspector Lom not only strives to be an outstanding citizen and police officer, he also knows he is not fully free. He has a piece of angel skin embedded in his head – it has a censoring quality of sorts. His life and mission get a bit complicated when he meets Marrousia Shaumian. Although, this might be the beginning towards his freedom.
The history of Vlast is mystical and points towards the existence of Pollandore. As more and more people try to find it, it seems more unreal. Mirgorod is haunted by visions and intangible proof of its existence. Lom’s mission takes him round Mirgorod and its underground – avant-garde art clubs; seemingly impenetrable secret police headquarters, Lodka; streets full of architecture of Soviet bleakness and raw beauty. It’s not only the astonishing places that draw us in, but also the supernatural creatures that inhabit the world of Wolfhound Century – fallen angels, whose dead bodies serve as timber for dark intentions; notorious and indestructible mudjhiks; giants, vyrdalaks and mysterious forest creatures.
The language of Wolfhound Century is captivating. Peter Higgins wrote a truly superb debut novel which captures Russian metaphysical folklore and harsh Soviet reality. This almost lyrical story seems more than just a fantasy. It touches the somewhat delicate history of Soviet power and its vast expanse – especially the relationship between Soviet Russia and Poland.
I’d recommend Wolfhound Century to those who love a challenge in the form of a book – when Sci-Fi intertwines with Noir thriller. I’m already looking forward to reading the sequel – not only because I am desperate to know what happens next, but also, because of sheer writing which is amazing.
Author: Peter Higgins
Title: Wolfhound Century
Format: Hardback, 320 pages