Gone to the Wolves: A Novel
“A hair-raising, head-banging, meet-the-Devil epic tale of love, youth, and rock ’n’ roll.” —Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Less Is Lost
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.
Praise for Gone to the Wolves: A Novel
"A cacophony of literary talent and incredible storytelling...This masterful work — buoyed by Wray's clear skill when it comes to writing music and the power it wields—is perfect for fans of literature and rock and roll alike." —The Today Show
"As terrifying as the novel becomes, it’s also, at its core, a lot of fun. . . . Gone to the Wolves is an anti-establishment treatise, bildungsroman and extreme love letter to the flame of youth." —Sarah Gerard, New York Times
"A blast of a summer novel." —Chicago Tribune
"John Wray’s writing is propulsive, unsettling; tender in some places and sharp as razorwire in others. The last third of this book had my ears ringing, like standing in front of a live amp inside a tornado. This book is an absolute banger.” —Electric Lit
"Gone to the Wolves is a powerful and juicy novel about a particular time, subculture, and the ways people can find themselves in—or can deliberately disappear into—fandom." —Ilana Masad, NPR
"Outstanding . . . Wray knows his stuff, and he masterfully sets the table . . . Gone to the Wolves captures the feeling of loving something so intensely it just might kill you." —Jim Ruland, Los Angeles Times
"A masterly opus of Florida metalheads . . . Wray writes about music with the enthusiasm of a fan and the precision of a critic, packing the pages with spot-on details and cannily capturing the allure of extreme music. The pages of this anthem are as uncompromising as the music they depict." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Wray deftly captures teenage alienation, the precarity of adolescence, and the way multiple subgenres of metal can provide solace, be it via glitzy fandom or gloomy angst . . . Wray is gifted at capturing the dynamics of difficult friendships . . . A giddy, harrowing, manic, and often dark coming-of-age tale." —Kirkus Reviews
Wray’s edgy prose is as crisp as ever, resulting in a melodious exploration of the succor that music and fan groups can provide, especially to rudderless teens desperate to find anchor anywhere.” —Booklist (starred reviews)
“Gone To The Wolves is a love letter to metal that captures both its brutal kinetics and its nearness to the sublime.” —Raven Leilani, author of Luster
“In Gone to the Wolves, John Wray delves so deep into rock ‘n’ roll’s heart of darkness that it’s a wonder he made it out alive. There’s never been a novel like this.” —Marlon James, author of Moon Witch, Spider King
“Riveting and electric. Wray’s brilliant new novel is both a page-turner and an elegant meditation on how far we’d go for our allegiances.” —Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven
“A hair-raising, head-banging, meet-the-Devil epic tale of love, youth and rock and roll. Get in the car and go for a ride: Gone to the Wolves is one hell of a good time.” —Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Less Is Lost
“A wild somersault of a book with pitch perfect humor and pitch black darkness. Wray, a foremost cartographer of the weird, writes with nonchalance and grace, delighting at every turn.” —Catherine Lacey, author of Pew and Nobody Is Ever Missing
“Gone to the Wolves delivers the gorgeous head rush of an underground metal show, in the company of darkly charismatic people who may or may not be murderers, at no actual risk to life and limb. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted from moshing without having to get off your sofa. John Wray writes too damn well!” —Susan Choi, author of Trust Exercise