As a life-long metalhead, my eyes must be tuned to spot “metal script”, as they did on the cover of John Wray‘s upcoming new novel, Gone to the Wolves. “What’s that about?” I wondered. The new novel from the author of The Lost Time Accidents and Godsend, it delves into “the wild, risky world of heavy metal in the 1980s and ’90s”. Here’s the synopsis:
Kip, Leslie, and Kira are outliers—even in the metal scene they love. In arch-conservative Gulf Coast Florida in the late 1980s, just listening to metal can get you arrested, but for the three of them the risk is well worth it, because metal is what leads them to one another.
Different as they are, Kip, Leslie, and Kira form a family of sorts that proves far safer, and more loving, than the families they come from. Together, they make the pilgrimage from Florida’s swamp country to the fabled Sunset Strip in Hollywood. But in time, the delicate equilibrium they’ve found begins to crumble. Leslie moves home to live with his elderly parents; Kip struggles to find his footing in the sordid world of LA music journalism; and Kira, the most troubled of the three, finds herself drawn to ever darker and more extreme strains of metal. On a trip to northern Europe for her twenty-second birthday, in the middle of a show, she simply vanishes. Two years later, the truth about her disappearance reunites Kip with Leslie, who in order to bring Kira home alive must make greater sacrifices than they could ever have imagined.
In his most absorbing and ambitious novel yet, John Wray dives deep into the wild, funhouse world of heavy metal and death cults in the 1980s and ’90s. Gone to the Wolves lays bare the intensity, tumult, and thrill of friendship in adolescence—a time when music can often feel like life or death.
I’m really looking forward to reading this. John Wray’s Gone to the Wolves is due to be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in North America on May 2nd, 2023.