Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier
Just finished reading Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier . I really enjoyed this book. It had an interesting take on the whole werewolf myth, it was fast paced with plenty of action and I liked the style of writing.
Okay, well, taking a look at the cover it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is a take on werewolves – called black dogs in this story. I confess I love the cover, it makes me come out all ‘pantomime’ – I want to shout out at the girl on the front ‘he’s behind you!’…
Anyway, moving swiftly on, the three main characters are Natividad, Miguel and Alejandro – two brothers and their sister. Miguel is a regular human, Alejandro is a black dog and Natividad is a Pure born – whose magic can help to calm the dark shadow of the black dog, The three of them have recently lost their parents to a vicious pack of black dogs and are on the run from a determined enemy known as Vonhausel. They’re running straight into other black dog territory – hoping for shelter but risking their lives in the process by encroaching in this way. And, it’s at this point that the three are discovered by a particularly cold and menacing black dog and taken to the Dimilioc base.
The premise of the story is based heavily on the war between vampires and werewolves – or at least in this book there are werewolves but the main packs are black dogs. People who are not moon called but are constantly on the edge torn between their human and animal nature. In this story the vampires have been eliminated during vicious wars that have also split the black dogs into different factions. The Dimilioc pack are one of the oldest surviving packs. They enforce pack law on rogue dogs. Their executioner, Ezekiel, is greatly feared and has not yet met his match. And it is in this place that the three now find themselves and where the quick and charming tongue of Miguel will be needed in order to keep them alive. Of course, they do have a much sought after asset – their Pure sister. Many black dogs hate the Pure and the magic they use to protect humans and to bring calm to the black dog spirit and consequently many of these women have been killed. The Dimilioc pack have always sworn to protect the Pure – they greatly prize these women for their soothing presence and the way in which they help to maintain the humanity of the pack. The Dimilioc master therefore agrees to let the three stay, with the proviso that Natividad will, eventually, chose one of the pack members. Decisions, decisions – what’s a girl to do! Well, staying alive might become the first priority as Vonhausel and his dogs have followed the three and are about to attack!
As I said I really enjoyed this. I liked the family aspect to the story and the way they all cared for each other so much. I thought the take on the whole vampire/werewolf myth was interesting and unique. I own up that I liked Ezekiel quite a bit and especially the fact that the author has succeeded in bringing quite a sizzling chemistry to the page.
In terms of criticisms – I felt like the ages of the three characters was a little young – Nat and her twin brother Miguel being only 15! It makes the whole idea of this pack of male dogs vying for the attention of this young girl a little off putting although the author pretty quickly succeeds in keeps this from becoming too great a contest. Admittedly Ezekiel is only a few years older but even so I think I would have preferred it if Natividad had been a little more mature, especially as she has a deadline of her 16th birthday to reach a rather important decision. Also, there is quite a lot of macho posturing going on which is a bit yawn inducing at times! It simply becomes a little tiresome when there’s a pack of men flexing their muscles and making decisions willy nilly for the poor little defenceless girl – fortunately Natividad doesn’t let them have all their own way and seems perfectly capable of defying orders on a regular basis.
I did have an issue with one particular aspect which I thought didn’t quite gel but having thought about that I suspect it could be something that provides a further plot line so obviously I won’t elaborate. For those who don’t like cliffhanger endings – stand easy because this novel does have a fairly self contained conclusion.
Undoubtedly it’s difficult to bring something new to the paranormal reading world but I think the author manages to come up with an interesting concept. I especially liked the fact that she takes a look back at the old notion of werewolves pitched against vampires while giving the idea a fresh take. I will definitely read any future tales of the Black Dogs to see where this goes next.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. The above is my own opinion.