I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier
Published: 2014 by Strange Chemistry
Genres: Fantasy, Horror/Gothic, Young Adult
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House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeir was one of my favorite books of 2012, so when I saw that she was releasing a new book this year, I was excited to read it. In preparation for Black Dog’s release, the author was kind enough to write a guest post for my blog. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out.
Rachel Neumeier’s latest young adult novel, Black Dog, presents a stunning new take on werewolf legends. The story is set in a world where vampires once used their powers to keep humans from knowing that any magical creatures exist. However, when the vampires are defeated by the werewolves (known in the book as “black dogs” to distance them from many werewolf stereotypes), mankind became aware that they were not alone, and even now they’re skeptical about letting the werewolves anywhere near them.
Natividad, the protagonist, is Pure. The Pure have a type of magic that allows them to help tame the werewolves’ magic, which is a big part of why the werewolves can now band together and live in groups. Normally that would be impossible because their territorial instincts would get in the way, and even with the Pure’s influence, working as a group is not the werewolves’ forte. Werewolf society is an interesting place that comes with its own set of social rules, including a well-defined hierarchy of subordination. Fights for dominance are common, and if a new werewolf wins, it can change the dynamic of the entire group.
Natividad and her two brothers, Miguel (a human) and Alejandro (a werewolf) travel north from Mexico after their parents are murdered. The three of them seek out the Dimiloc clan of werewolves, because their father had spoken highly of Dimiloc in the past. The three use everything in their power to convince the Dimiloc to let them stay. Natividad uses the fact that she is old enough to bear children as a bargaining chip, and I was surprised and impressed by both her bravery and her willingness to use every asset available to her to ensure her and her brothers’ survival. Even though she uses her sexuality when negotiating with Dimiloc, she sets very clear limits, agreeing to pursue a relationship and bear children with only one of the clan members (of her choice), and then only after her sixteenth birthday. Now, in any other YA novel, this would be the major plot of the book, and there would be a love triangle, and yada yada yada, but no. You see, the werewolves behind their parents’ death followed them to Dimiloc, and they seem to have an uncanny strength that could only come from vampire magic. Natividad has to make sure that the werewolves cooperate with each other and use every tool available to them to survive, even if it’s contrary to their own instincts. It means introducing a new way of thinking to a clan whose very survival in the past had hinged on resistance to change.
I started reading Black Dog on my way home from work one night and couldn’t put it down. My boyfriend was trying to have a conversation with me and I was just like “But… but… but the werewolves! I need to know what happens to the werewolves!” It’s one of those books where you become so wrapped up in the story that you want to put reality on hold until you finish it. I loved the book, and would highly recommend it.