A gripping SF thriller in a brilliantly realised alternative Russia - a superb debut.
A thousand miles east of Mirgorod, the great capital city of the Vlast, deep in the ancient forest, lies the most recent fallen angel, its vast stone form half-buried and fused into the rock by the violence of impact. As its dark energy leeches into the crash site, so a circle of death expands around it, slowly - inexorably - killing everything it touches. Alone in the wilderness, it reaches out with its mind.
The endless forest and its antique folklore are no concern to Inspector Vissarion Lom, 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 terrorism 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 at the children's home.
Lom's investigation reveals a conspiracy that extends to the top echelons of the party. When he exposes who - or rather what - is the controlling intelligence behind this, it is time for the detective to change sides. Pursued by rogue police agents and their man-crushing mudjhik, Lom must protect Kantor's step-daughter Maroussia, who has discovered what is hidden beneath police headquarters: a secret so ancient that only the forest remembers. As they try to escape the capital and flee down river, elemental forces are gathering. The earth itself is on the move.
Peter Higgins read English at Oxford University and Queen's, Ontario. He was a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford and worked in the British Civil Service. His short stories have appeared in Fantasy: Best of the Year 2007, Best New Fantasy 2, Asimov's Science Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, Zahir and Revelation, and in Russian translation in the St Petersburg magazine Esli. He lives with his family in South Wales.
Well paced action.. This world of a totalitarian state pitted against equally extremist revolutionaries is gripping... a solid page-turner. — The Sun - John Wyatt
We can expect great things of Peter Higgins... his debut novel is uniquely intriguing. — SCI FI NOW
Wolfhound Century is an extraordinarily accomplished debut from a real master of atmosphere. Peter Higgins has managed to create a completely unique fantasy world with a plot that wouldn't be out of place in a modern day thriller. — FANTASY FACTION - Doug Smith
The surprises keep on coming ... but quietly and subtly, like a dreaded knock on the door of an apartment in a brutalist concrete tower block in the dead of night. [An] excellent debut novel. — THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY - David Barnett
[The] vivid descriptions and pulsing action sequences are very reminiscent of Fleming. Add this to a sci fi mystery, blending an alternate totalitarian state with an ancient mythical world and you have a potent mix. — FANTASY BOOK REVIEW
There is much to admire in Higgins's writing, and his fantastical inventions are compelling and enjoyable. It's certainly an intriguing thriller. The plot unfolds swiftly and with an engaging clarity. You turn the pages, eager for clues. Events happen. People you were coming to think of as major players get brutally murdered. Still there is a mystery at the heart of things. The world Higgins creates is immersive and often compelling. — Strange Horizons
With a beautifully descriptive style, this imaginative thriller is impossible to put down. — WE LOVE THIS BOOK
Whilst Wolfhound Century may be just the first chunk of a bigger story, it is still a finely-written and compelling story. Higgins has created an engrossing fantasy world which is a million miles away from the more played-out ends of the genre and all the better for it. — THE WERTZONE
Brilliant world-building, great writing, and a pace that challenges you to put it down and then slaps you in the face with a constant niggling itch to return - a truly excellent debut, and Higgins' writing style ensures it just keeps flowing: in merely describing something as simple as a dash through rain-soaked streets, the author leaves you reaching for a towel and shivering from the clinging damp that lingers long after you've moved further down the page. Very highly recommended. — BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY
Every so often there comes along a book that manages to make you go wow, one that stands out as a book that is destined to become a classic. Last year Osama was such a book; this year Wolfhound Century takes that honour. an incredibly rich, rewarding novel that has an amazing feeling of depth. The use of an alternative noir-tinged Russia complete with the authoritarian, iron-fisted and deeply corrupt bureaucracy works brilliantly with the plodding world-weary gumshoe narrative and bleak, angel-wrought alternative world. The immersion is absolute, carried forward by the rich quality to the prose that borders on the poetic in places. — SFBOOK
Wolfhound Century is Peter Higgins' debut novel and what a way to begin. There is a strong emphasis on the magical and mythical, with living embodiments of the forest and nature itself interacting with human characters. There's also a strong strand urging people not to be too ambitious and overreach, but to be grounded and in touch with the world around them; this is a frequent theme in fairytales as well as science fiction. It also has that kind of gothic sensibility, where characters play god, creating new strange creatures like the Eastern European 'Golem' but also like Shelley's Frankenstein. Add to this a view of a city inexplicably in flux, ever changing but without explanation, magical or scientific and you have something with the feeling of the most magical realist works of Neil Gaiman. — ADVENTURES WITH WORDS
His prose style is splendid, his world-building comes across as immersive and encompassing, with hints of a greater world than the plot dictates, and the plot is enticing and promising in and of itself. Beautiful prose, elegant book, exciting times. — ONE CHAPTER MORE
Like vintage China Mieville, but with all the violent narrative thriller drive of Ian Fleming at his edgiest. — Richard Morgan
An amazing, fast-paced story in a fantasy world poised dangerously on the edge of quantum probability, a world where angels war with reality. — Peter F Hamilton
I absolutely loved WOLFHOUND CENTURY. Higgins's world is a truly original creation, Russian cosmism and Slavic mythology filtered through steampunk and le Carre. What really captured me was his beautiful style and language: his metaphors and associations flow smoothly like the waters of the Mir, and, like Lom without his angel stone, make you see the world in a new way. — Hannu Rajaniemi