Rating: 3.75 stars
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The war has taken everything from Simon Loupin. The death of his lover in an attack on their Monthyon resistance cell and wolf pack left Simon empty and uninterested in anything other than getting drunk. But the war still rages around him and he must find the strength to continue the work of his group.
British Lieutenant Kenneth Mackay has come to Paris with information: the devastating attack on the Monthyon cell wasn’t an isolated event. Instead the Nazis arranged a series of coordinated attacks designed to drive the wolves out of Monthyon. Now six months have passed and the Germans have been busy. With Kenneth’s help, Simon and the Loupin cell plan on taking their home back by any means necessary.
Stag and Hound was an evenly paced novella that takes place during the middle of World War II. The Germans have amassed incredible power and, despite the valiant efforts of the Allied forces and resistance groups throughout Europe, Hitler seems to be winning. Add to this already naturally tense situation, a group of werewolves determined to make the Nazis pay for an attack that killed their beloved leader, and you have a fairly captivating storyline that unfortunately never really reached its full potential. There is a romantic element, but it’s not very prevalent and seems to exist almost as an afterthought on the part of the author. Additionally, there are two separate couplings that take place on page, both m/m and f/f. So if the latter isn’t in your wheelhouse, considered yourself informed.
It was hard to connect with any of the four main characters, as they don’t have much depth. As a reader, I definitely wanted them to them to succeed, but not because I was particularly attached to any of them. They all seem a bit flat or incompletely formed, which was a bit frustrating. I always wanted more from them and never really got it. We never quite understood who Kenneth was or what his role was supposed to be beyond an information gatherer. Simon serves as a leader for his pack, but this aspect of his character was never really emphasized. In fact his second in command, Sandrine, seemed more leader-like and better suited to the roll than Simon.
That said, the writing is generally crisp and clean and flows smoothly. The author has done a good job of capturing a strong sense of time and place. Canon has also done an excellent job of creating a quartet of “little guys” that you desperately want best the Nazis at their own, vile game.
For all of Stag and Hound’s sense of purpose, it fell short of its mark in truly capturing my attention. It had a tendency to focus too much on events that had little to do with furthering the story. These moments never lasted long, but in such a short book, they tended to distract from my interest. I had a hard time becoming invested in either the characters, for reasons previously mentioned, but also the story. Despite the historical setting and importance of the cell’s mission, the overall plot failed to pack much punch. Overall I found the story to be rather boring. There were a few moments of action, but otherwise Stag and Hound never seemed to find a solid footing. But I’m willing to concede this may have been a problem on my part and that other readers may find Stag and Hound vastly more enjoyable.
Stag and Hound does a good job of capturing historical essence and setting up the story to move smoothly and fairly realistically, werewolves aside. The novella stumbles with characterization and holding my attention. Still there is enough here that works well and if you enjoy World War II period pieces with a dash of the paranormal, then Stag and Hound may be a good choice.