Monday, 7 July 2014

Review - The Hunter from the Woods by Robert R. McCammon

The Hunter from the Woods is the long-awaited sequel to McCammon's The Wolf's Hour, which is - to date - the best werewolf novel I've ever read. However, pretty much the only reason why The Hunter from the Woods doesn't surpass it is the fact that it is an anthology of short stories and novellas rather than a novel.

The stories included in the anthology all star Michael Gallatin, the hero of the first novel. They are picked from different points along his live from the time he left his home forest in Russia to the days of his work for the British secret service during the World War II and one even after it. The stories take him from the snow-covered fields of Russia to the deserts of North Africa and the streets of Berlin.

In "The Wolf and the Eagle", Michael Gallatin faces a German fighter pilot and while the course of the story is predictable, it is the emerging relationship between the two men that holds the reader's interest until the last. Another very strong story was "The Room At the Bottom of the Stairs" where Michael faces a German journalist and ends up falling in love with her. The last story, "Death of a Hunter", is perhaps the weakest, but it ends in a note that had my blood rushing, wishing that there was more to read. While the ending touched upon one of the loose threads in The Wolf's Hour, it - instead of answering them - actually manages to create more questions.

The wonderful thing about McCammon's writing is that while the stories are basically action adventure, they are written with such soul and insight into the people involved that they become much more. The author gives time for the mood to build up, the scenes to be set, before he launches into action. As such, the stories are much more than simple action adventures, and you feel that you get to know the character better and better through each of the stories.

Overall, this is an anthology well worth reading, even if you are not a fan of werewolves. In fact, the wildness, The Wolf, is part of the hero's character and he does not need to turn into a wolf for that character to show through.