PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Marshall

This first volume of Wolf Country collects the ongoing saga’s first four issues along with a previously unavailable introductory tale, telling the tale of a group of vampire colonists eking out survival in the heart of the titular wasteland that they consider holy ground for some as-yet unspecified reason, fending off regular assaults by tribes of werewolves.

Although vampire tales are well on the way out what with everyone now being over Twilight and True Blood getting a bit shit long before its languished death throes, Wolf Country proves that there is still life in stories about the undead. The story first begins as a simple vampires vs werewolves tale within a Western setting, but soon develops into something far greater as its myriad intricacies become revealed.

Through following a diverse assortment of characters such as Luke, a boy who became an overnight pseudo-messianic celebrity after killing a wolf barehanded while still a teenager; Carmichael, a tracker who appears to be some kind of vampire nobility; and Halfpenny, leader of the Settlement and a hardened werewolf slayer, the tale of the vampires’ eternal war against their lycanthrope enemy is slowly expanded.

The action jumps between the isolation of the Settlement and the true heart of vampire civilisation, the vast metropolis of the Kingdom. The events in each setting give us a compelling overview of vampire society and ideology, and it’s a testament to Alexander’s talent at world building that an outpost fort in the heart of enemy territory feels in no way at odds with being a colony of a sprawling and vastly populated city-state. Indeed, as much disregard as the populace of each have for those of the other, the varying levels of puritanical zealotry is really the only difference between them. Additionally, small details dropped into dialogue give us further details without appearing as jarring infodumps, developing the wider scope of the setting at a measured and organic pace.

Various themes run through the story such as class divisions within society and the self-righteousness of religious fundamentalism, but they are presented in such a way that they avoid being mirrors of any specific real-world ideal, instead remaining open to the interpretation of the reader and can be ascribed whatever significance is deemed appropriate. Once the end of the book is reached it becomes apparent that the story is only just getting started, and that there are many more developments and revelations to come. 



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