Ahh…Jonathan Janz. This guy is like a fine wine. He simply gets better with age. Anyone that has followed my reviews knows that I was already a big fan of his. With Wolf Land, my fandom is approaching man-crush territory. Before I start sounding like Annie Wilkes here, let’s move on. 2015 seemed to be the year of the werewolf for me. I read some absolutely amazing lycanthropic tales in 2015. From Bill Schweigart’s excellent, The Beast of Barcroft, to the gem-laden short-story collection, Best New Werewolf Tales, Volume One, to Ray Garton’s wonderfully vicious, Ravenous, to Glenn Rolfe’s coming out to the big time classic, Blood and Rain. Four tales that simply took me by the throat and didn’t let go. But, I saved the best for last with Janz’s Wolf Land.
An upcoming ten-year high school reunion brings many back to celebrate in the small Indiana town of Lakeview where a kegger is being held out in a vacant field. When a strange and odd man crashes the party offering prophetic warnings to the group, little did they know all hell was about to break loose. The stranger transforms into a furious abomination of teeth and claws right before their very eyes. Many died that night, but a few survived. For the ones that survived, they are about to be plunged into a world that they thought only existed in the movies. But this evil is ancient and has quietly been roaming in the shadows of the Indiana prairie since the Native Americans ruled the land. Now, Lakeview is about to be engulfed in a horrific bloodbath.
With Wolf Land, not only does Janz create a blood drenched and wildly entertaining story, but he also flexes his literary muscle and explores sociological themes of a small-town’s dark sided underbelly. This creates multiple layers within the story and brings a realism to the characters and their settings that totally immerses the reader. This is where I give Janz kudos. He could’ve simply made a werewolf story with non-stop action with cardboard cut-out characters that we wouldn’t care about and try to dress it up by splashing blood all over the pages. But, in Wolf Land, he does so much more by creating layer after layer and breathing life into the cast very reminiscent of Straub’s finest works. Well done, my friend. Well done.
5 blood dripping muzzles out of 5
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