Rating: 5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
If you are approaching Rhys Ford’s novel Black Dog Blues looking for a traditional romance or even a sci-fi classic, think again. This is no typical anything. Instead Ford creates a world that has both human and fey, magic and monsters, and everything in between and places them inside a story that is so rich in character and long in plot that you are nearly breathless by novels end.
The main story centers on the Sidhe and Unsidhe—those who are elfin and those who are…something evil altogether. They coexist next to humans and multiple creatures of every species, from dragons, to the elfin shadow dogs, and many other mutant forms of different species. In this new society there are stalkers—those who go hunting our worst nightmares and deliver their hides for payment. One such stalker is the mysterious Kai Gracen, a young elfin who has been humanized to the point of virtually becoming a loner, neither cohabitating with his own kind or humans. Kai was raised by Dempsey, a stalker who won him in a poker game. At that time, Kai was barely recognizable as any kind of boy, more animal than human or elfin. As this story evolves, we come to find out about his past and are mystified as to how Kai not only managed to survive the horrors of his former life, but rise above them to be the compassionate man he has become.
Kai is commissioned to retrieve a pregnant human from the chief city of the sidhe (the good elves, in essence). Accompanying him will be the prince of that dynasty who has come to Kai’s neck of the words to establish a “dawn court” for the disenfranchised sidhe who live in the city. This mission will challenge Kai in many ways and unlock the mystery of who he is and just what stalks his own nightmares. He will be confronted by the horrors of his past and feel himself slipping into love with a man who wields much power for good. The questions remain though whether Kai survive this mission intact and if can he really love another person—especially when he is unsure that love can ever really be his at all.
The brief and admittedly shallow synopsis above touches the bones of this story. There is one mystery after another in this novel and author Rhys Ford unravels each one after intertwining them into the most intricate of plots I have ever seen. However, by virtue of excellent story telling, I was never lost or bored in the weaving of this tale. Kai is a conundrum whose story just begins in this novel. While he is on every page, I feel as though his past is carefully alluded to over and over with the startling revelation of who and what he is being revealed nearly at novel’s end. Even then you know there is a wealth of background information just waiting to surface, which leads me to believe that this is only the beginning of a string of potential novels about this brave young elf.
Speaking of elves—these are not your waif like forest creatures. No, this author not only makes her elf-kind cunning and smart, but strong and determined as well. I was so impressed by the way that the supernatural creatures in this story were three-dimensional and fully fleshed out. The result was that I cared for them, was drawn into their story and captured by their troubles. The story itself was captivating, with so many twists and turns that I found myself trying to solve the many mysteries and delightfully surprised when the answers turned out to be ones that I would have never thought of in a million years.
All in all, Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford is a compelling mystery with a touch of romance and excellent supernatural shadings thrown in. I was most impressed by this story and hope the author intends to give us more of this remarkable cast of characters.