My previous experiences of Mark Morris are via his Doctor Who novel Deep Blue, and his exceptional novella Albion Fay, which was one of the best stories I read in 2015. I picked up The Wolves of London at Fcon that year, and true to form have just finished it.
And blimey, what a piece of work this novel is....
I guess I’ll start with the sheer scale of imagination on display here, because it’s honestly kind of staggering. This novel incorporates crime thriller, epic contemporary fantasy and magic, steampunk, a Gaimanesque magical London underworld, and Barkeresque body horror. Oh, and time travel. The sheer tonnage of ideas in this novel is never less than impressive, and at moments dizzying, and I couldn't help but be impressed by the sheer scale of the ambition on display.
That said, there’s a real danger with such a large number of elements in play, in terms of keeping the narrative coherent and the story consistent. Fortunately, Morris is more than equal to the task.
For starters, he makes the smart choice of telling the story from a first person perspective. Alex Locke is a superb protagonist - I found him to be warm and decent, though with enough of an edge and compromised past to avoid blandness. The relationship with his daughter is particularly well written, and Mark conveys the pathos and joys of parenthood with grace and skill.
In terms of the novel, his voice anchors the narrative well, taking the reader with him as he tumbles through this kaleidoscope of events. By the end of the novel, we’ve been taken on a truly remarkable journey. There are twists and turns, some stunning horror set pieces, and an incredibly deft sense of pace - Morris perfectly judges the rhythms of the narrative, understanding when to give space for the characters to breathe, and when and how to set things spinning again.
The Wolves of London is unambiguously part one of a trilogy, and the conclusion does not so much wrap things up as mark a major turning point for part 2 (as it should). Based on this, I cannot wait to see how the story develops over the next two books. If a fusion of Barker and Gaiman urban fantasy horror sounds like something that would appeal to you (and why wouldn’t it?) I can heartily recommend The Wolves of London to your attention. It is a wild, scary, exhilarating ride.
Bring on book 2.
Purchase a copy here
Kit Power lives in the UK and writes fiction that lurks at the boundaries of the horror, fantasy, and thriller genres, trying to bum a smoke or hitch a ride from the unwary.
In his secret alter ego of Kit Gonzo, he also performs as front man (and occasionally blogs) for death cult and popular beat combo The Disciples Of Gonzo, www.disciplesofgonzo.com