M.D. Lachlan is one of several pen names of Mark Barrowcliffe. He just published a book stateside under another pen name, Mark Alder. I reviewed that book, Son of the Morning, last week.
Wolfsangel is a darkly poetic re-imagining of the werewolf rooted more in Norse mythology than the modern werewolf canon. The setting is medieval Norway during the Viking Age. Fittingly, Lachlan’s tale is savage and darkly poetic.
In addition to his fresh look at werewolves, Lachlan re-imagines witches. And again, in doing so, he goes back to the source. His witches are largely based on real world beliefs. Magic is all based off self-deprivation and self-torture and pushing yourself to the brink of insanity. It allows Lachlan to play with around with surrealism, much as many fantasy authors do with dreams.
Unfortunately, Wolfsangel fails to live up to its very impressive potential. The plotting is jerky and the characterization lurching. Constant shifts back and forth in time exacerbate the problems. The book is primarily told through the POV of three main characters, but I found I had a hard time caring about them. The personalities and motivations of two change dramatically (and rather abruptly), and the other gets short shrift. A lot of it was the kind of thing I just can’t put my finger on or adequately articulate; I’ve read books in which the author made these kind of lurches work, but Lachlan just doesn’t pull it off for me in Wolfsangel. It by no means ruined my enjoyment of the book, but it did prevent it from being great.
4 of 5 Stars.