Sunday, March 9, 2014

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: Black Dog
Author: Rachel Neumeier
Publication Date: February 4, 2014

My Black Dog Pre-Reading

Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge – the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases – like for Natividad’s father and older brother – Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest black dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.

Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister’s Pure magic. Natividad’s twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.

But, first, they must all survive the looming battle.


Review: Werewolf stories are typically not my thing. I think the market is just so saturated with them right now that it's hard to find anything special about them anymore. With this book, I was actually pleasantly surprised! There was so much more to it than just werewolves, and I really appreciated that.

The werewolves are the center of this book - Natividad's brother is a Black Dog, and she and her brothers seek sanctuary with a Black Dog family. They have to learn to live among other Black Dogs that do not know them and do not necessarily trust them. Plus, they have to somehow prevent the Black Dog who slaughtered their entire village from doing the same to Dimilioc and the nearby town. It's really interesting to see the Black Dog family dynamic, and how each of the siblings adjusts to it. 

One of my favorite parts of this book is that it's told from a third person perspective, which allows the reader to see what Natividad, Alejandro, and Miguel are all up to even when they aren't together. Although we still get to see their thoughts and their reactions, I think it made it less jarring then it otherwise might have been. It allowed the story to progress at a reasonable pace and I never found it to be confusing or anything. I think sometimes the pacing was a little slow - not much was happening and it was a lot of Alejandro's or Natividad's opinions on the other Black Dogs, but the information was eventually important and I think it set things up for another novel. 

Although Natividad has to pick a Black Dog mate, there's not really much romance going on, which was kind of nice. Especially because it seems like a lot of werewolf stories also have a romance at the center. I kind of really liked Ezekial Korte though, and I won't be upset if she ends up choosing him later on. Her 16th birthday doesn't come by the end of the book, so her choosing a mate isn't really a huge priority. I have a feeling that it will play a bigger role in a sequel though.

Overall, this was a pretty interesting read and I'm glad I gave it a chance. I think that fans of werewolves would really enjoy this book, as well as people who are into YA urban fantasies. It was definitely better than I expected it to be, and I'm looking forward to a sequel. 3.5/5 from me! 


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