Fugitive Rachel Nolander is a newcomer to the city of Dogsland, where the rich throw parties and the poor just do whatever they can to scrape by. Supported by her brother Djoss, she hides out in their squalid apartment, living in fear that someday, someone will find out that she is the child of a demon. Corporal Jona Lord Joni is a demon’s child too, but instead of living in fear, he keeps his secret and goes about his life as a cocky, self-assured man of the law.
A description of this book described it as literary fiction about werewolves and that alone determined its presence on my to read list. Reading it was an interesting affair and I dare say I would have liked it a lot better were it not for one major thing which I’ll get it soon.
The novel has a frame narrative and an unreliable narrator – not in the traditional sense of the term but more so because the active portion of the narrative, the story, is being narrated by someone who is accessing the memories of a person through his, um, skull. It happens. There is a deliberate distance cultivated between the readers and the two narrating (and actively present, as in not within the memories of) the story. While this makes the non-human nature of the were-wolves doing their duties much more apparent, it is also a deterrent where attachment to the protagonists is concerned. It always feels as though you are looking at the world through not very clean windows is what I’m saying.
That said, the gravitas, the tone and the progression of the narrative is very interesting when compared to popular werewolf novels. There is no “reader service” descriptions about the physical attributes of the male werewolf, no extended monologue about the feelings they have for each other. There is the emphasis on the pack or rather the lack of one but mostly, the novel is very different and as such, very refreshing. It won’t appeal to everyone but I liked it because of its strangeness. The distance was necessary maybe to create set the novel apart from the rest of its brethren in the popular genre but the world building, the plot, these are all engaging enough to provide an entertaining hour. Or two.