February 6, 2014

Review: Black Dog

Black Dog By Rachel Neumeier
Available now from Strange Chemistry (Angry Robot)
Review copy

BLACK DOG is super cool.  I don't even know where to start.  It's such a rich world with such intriguing characters and I just want to read it again or have a sequel or something so I can roll around in it some more.  It struck me as something like a Maggie Stiefvater novel.  I want to talk to people about what they think certain scenes meant, or how they interpret certain actions, or what they think will happen next.  (I mean, I adore stand-alones and want more, but at the same time, I wouldn't kick Rachel Neumeier out of publishing for writing a sequel.)

Natividad, her twin brother Miguel, and their older brother Alejandro have immigrated to the USA to find the Dimiloc pack and ask them for protection.  Their parents were killed by one of their father's old enemies and they know their only hope is the respected Dimiloc pack; however, the pack doesn't tend to be kind to outsiders. 

You see, Alejandro and the pack are black dogs.  They're angry and territorial and can shift with their shadows.  Miguel is human, but Natividad is Pure.  It's sort of like being a recessive carrier, except you also get to do spiritual magic.  Thus, Natividad is the only one with a good in, but it's one that means she'll probably be married off pretty young.  This could be very skeevy, the book acknowledges that it could be skeevy, and Natividad's agency in her romantic choices is explored.

Things BLACK DOG has: protective siblings, protective parents, protective friends, spectacular magic, brutal fights, comic fights, silly boys, clever boys, dangerous girls, sweet girls, an exploration of both fantastic prejudice and real racism.  It's all grounded in the tight bond between the siblings and the potential for them to bond with the pack too.  I loved how detailed Neumeier is about both their lives before and their potential lives now.  It's not just surviving the danger, but little things like how eggs are cooked in the morning and remembering to speak English.  And it's all told so beautifully.

I heard people sing Neumeier's praises when HOUSE OF SHADOWS came out, but I never read it.  BLACK DOG makes me regret that.  I am so going to devour Neumeier's backlist.  Also, I'm going to make the time to read this one again.


17 comments:

  1. Wow, looks like a great read. Glad you loved it so much.

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  2. I envy you your trip to Rachel's backlist! House of Shadows, in particular, was lovely...as was Floating Islands and City in the Lake.

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    1. I'll have to start with those three then.

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  3. I loved this one so much for all the same reasons. I am also looking forward to rereading it and can't wait for the sequel (there will be one!). Have fun with the backlist. I still haven't read City in the Lake, but I love all her other books.

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    1. Yeah, I just heard about the sequel. So excited!

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  4. Looks like a good one. I've not heard of the author but House of Shadows rings a bell. The marriage arrangement sounds interesting, I almost expected it to be the other way round, magic's so often thought of badly.

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    1. Yeah, the marriage/dating stuff is interesting. It's really off-putting, an arranged marriage, in a way, but the way Neumeier handled it works for me.

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  5. Like a Maggie Stiefvater novel? Now I'm really curious to read this! I hadn't heard of it before, so thanks for putting it on my radar. I love all these things "protective siblings, protective parents, protective friends, spectacular magic, brutal fights, comic fights, silly boys, clever boys, dangerous girls, sweet girls, an exploration of both fantastic prejudice and real racism" so I'm in! Lovely review :-)

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    1. Glad I could bring it to your attention! Strange Chemistry is a smaller imprint, but they put out some great stuff!

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  6. Sounds great, it does remind me of The Wolves of Mercy Falls series as you said. Sounds like an interesting Werewolf type story, thanks for sharing!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

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    1. You're welcome! It's definitely a great one for werewolf fans.

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  7. DANG. Okay, I'm totally into shifter stories right now, so I am even more excited about this than I usually would be about a book you like. AHHHH, sign me up right now!

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    1. Haha, if you're into shifter stories right now, then this is perfect.

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    2. You're right. It was perfect. And your review was one of the things that really convinced me to read it. Also, I have to say... upon rereading your review, I once again noticed your BEAUTIFUL writing. Really lovely!

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  8. Sounds great! I'm a big fan of Rachel Neumeier, but somehow I missed this book. I guess it was impacted by the closing of Strange Chemistry, unfortunately. I wonder if it's still available.

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    1. It is still for sale - I believe Angry Robot is continuing to stock and ship the Strange Chemistry titles that were in print.

      Neumeier has said that she'll maybe find another publisher or self-publish so the sequels will come out more or less as planned: http://www.rachelneumeier.com/2014/06/20/sad-news-in-ya-publishing/

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