Wolf in White Van | Review


Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

At the age of 17, Sean Phillips has a horrific, disfiguring accident. In an attempt to escape the pain of recovery, he creates Trace Italian, a mail-in role play game where survival means victory but doing so is incredibly challenging.

The story of Sean and his accident, of his creation of this epic dystopian fantasy game, and the lives of those involved, is wonderful.

Sean is difficult to look at and listen to, so he spends his time behind his desk, answering player’s turns and connecting with some of them as the game spans through time. Lance and Carrie are two such players, but their decision to take the game of a savage future America into the the real world, disaster strikes and Sean must question his decisions.

Alec Longstreth.The story unfolds in reverse and in flashbacks, so the novel twists through present day back through various players and ends at Sean’s accident, answering just as many questions as it poses.

The prose is beautiful, the story fresh and interesting, and the characters complex. The story is captivating and mysterious, the emotion is fresh and raw, and I couldn’t stop myself from continuing.


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