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Wulf

Novel by Steve Harris (England) 1991.

James 'Heater' Heatley is fourteen years old, he delivers papers in the quiet English village of West Waltham, and on one Sunday, he can't help but notice that various people in the village seem to be going nuts. 'Moses' Walker was weird anyway, but now he's walking round in a pair of knickers firing a plastic AK-47 at anyone who moves; Edith Fairburn believes that she is becoming one with nature - literally; Richard Sinclair is getting rapidly more violent; and almost everyone is going down with rashes and itching. And as time goes on, things get progressively curiouser and curiouser. Everything seems to be tied in with God's Teardrop, a field where nothing ever grows but which calls to its owner, Sissy Butts; and a mysterious entity called the wulf. Heater finds that, together with his girlfriend Ember and the enigmatic biker named Beetle, he has somehow been chosen to sort everything out.

Steve Harris seems determined to confuse his potential readers. Wulf follows its predecessor AdventureLand in combining two plots: an almost surreal plot in which the various characters find the boundaries between reality and fantasy increasingly difficult to define, and a 'real' plot in which Harris constructs his believable backgrounds. In Wulf, the surreal plot concerns such things as God's Teardrop, the wulf of the title, the unnerving and uncontrollable telepathy that affects a number of characters, and a razor of Beetle's that chooses to attach itself to Ember and ends up slicing into another dimension. And the real plot concerns a huge meat pie served to the village on Harvest Home Wednesday four years before this book is set, which contained meat and brains from one of Sissy Butts' cows, a cow that suffered from BSE or 'Mad Cow Disease'. Wulf is another quality novel that confirmed Steve Harris's place as one of the leaders of the new generation of British horror writers, and it's a great read. My only gripe is that the structure is so similar to AdventureLand. But that's only a minor gripe, and if Harris carries on in the way he's heading, he'll be writing a classic before too long.

"A suitably vicious slice of contemporary British life and a salutory antidote to Miss Read. Someone should definitely send a copy to the Min of Ag" - The Times


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