The Wolf Trial – Neil Mackay. Have silver bullets handy…


Publication Date: 21st April from Freight Books

Source: Netgalley

Inspired by an extraordinary true case – the first ever documented account of a serial killer in world history.

In the second half of the 16th century, Paulus Melchior, lawyer, academic, and enlightened rationalist, travels with his young assistant Willy Lessinger to the isolated German town of Bideburg where local landowner, Peter Stumpf, is accused of brutally murdering dozens of people. A society still trapped in a medieval mindset, the townsfolk clamour for the killer to be tried as a werewolf. If their demands are met his blameless wife and children will also be executed in the most barbaric way imaginable as agents of Satan and creatures contaminated by wolf blood.

Paulus and Willy must fight superstition, the cruelty of those who fear what they don’t understand, and a zealous church determined to retain its grip on the souls of Bideburg.

In all honesty The Wolf Trial is not a book I would normally pick up automatically, in this case it was the cover that got me. Actually that happens a lot and more often than not its a good thing. With “The Wolf Trial” it was DEFINITELY a good thing –  I would have missed this one and that would have been a shame.

Utterly gripping with atmosphere dripping from every page, this novel takes you on a brutal and no holds barred journey back to a time when superstition was rife, brutality expected and tells the tale of Peter Stumpf, accused of murder, suspected of being a werewolf. The fact that he is responsible for the deaths  is not challenged, but his status is – if guilty he faces an unimaginable fate as do his wife and children.  Narrating the tale is Willy Lessinger, from a distance of many years, through him we see events unfold, the author having a highly imaginative and clever style to his writing that just puts you right into the action.

This is not for the faint hearted – it is violent, descriptive and doesnt pull punches – brutal honesty is the name of the game here, but it is utterly fascinating throughout and has the advantage of being multi layered to have a huge appeal. If you like a horror story you’ll love it, if you are serial killer thriller fan you’ll love it, if you like novels with a deeply ingrained historical flavour you will REALLY love it, assuming of course that you don’t faint at the sight of blood. Or the thought of it. Actually to be fair blood is probably the least of your worries. Brilliantly done.

An intelligent perfectly paced plot that challenges belief systems, makes you thankful that you live in an enlightened society (even if there are still things to fix) and most of all gives you a banging story that will stay with you long after turning the last page – what made it even more alluring for me personally was the fact that it was very different from anything I’ve read before and was executed with a tone and sense of feeling that engaged me completely.

Definitely recommended.

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Happy Reading!


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