The Hound Heads

Volumes: 1

author: Aleksei Ivanov

genre: Horror

translation possible from: Russian

rights available: all except Italy

«A rich, atmospheric American thriller, moved to our native aspen forest, which uses all our Russian phobias… of course the reader is hoodwinked, but extremely clever.»
ST. PETERBURG VEDOMOSTI

«An exciting, well-thought-out and intelligently constructed book that challenges the reader to solve puzzles that are extremely interesting, and provides imaginative worlds worth thinking about.»
KOMMERSANT

THE HOUND HEADS

Mystical horror thriller. AST. Moscow 2011. 413 pages

One remembers the extremely hot summer when the peat fields around Moscow were on fire. Even above a remote village near a former prison camp in the forest somewhere towards the Volga lies biting opaque smoke. Three Muscovites have been hired by an ominous preservation fund via the Internet to save a rare fresco depicting St. Christopher with a hound‘s head for the museum in the abandoned vil- lage church. Legend has it that Christophorus wanted to turn his brother into a man with a hound‘s head as a deterrent because he as a monk succumbed to the seduc- tion of a girl. Instead, Christophorus himself was transformed into a hound-headed man, and in revenge he slashed his own brother and girl to pieces.

The village and its inhabitants, who are not only outwardly totally run-down, react aggressively to the strangers with their Mercedes bus, their notebooks and mobile phones including social networks. Liza is the only one who is friendly with the newco- mers. But because of her speech impediment, her clues sound like warnings. While his two buddies are supposed to take care of the fresco‘s removal, Kirill makes closer contact with Liza. His mission is to investigate to what extent the customs and habits of the villagers still follow the legend of the hound-headed. Do old believers conti- nue to do their mischief? Or do ex-GULAG convicts living in the forest avenge every attempt to leave the „zone“? Was it a hound-headed who raped Lisa just before she wanted to leave the village to study in Moscow?

For far too long, the three Muscovites have been thinking of everything as haunting images in the minds of the villagers, who are still socialized by the surveillance state Russia. But their enlightened intellectual view of the world breaks apart piece by piece in contact with this village community, which has degenerated from primitive primal fears to inhumanity. Did Kirill provoke everything because he got involved with Liza? The crossing of borderlines, no matter in which direction, the escape from one‘s own „zone“ becomes a danger to life for everyone. Even just a change of perspective can lead to ruin, and that‘s exactly how the author lures the reader in and has him on the hook like a fish.