Dana reviews Black Dog Blues (The Kai Gracen Series Book 1) by Rhys Ford (Published by DSP Publications, Feb 3, 2015, 256 pages)
Why I read this book: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Though I would have read it anyway, because Rhys Ford is a auto-buy author for me.
The Kai Gracen Series: Book One (2nd Edition)
Ever since being part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figures he used up his good karma when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races are left with a messy, monster-ridden world, and Stalkers are the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy appears.
It’s a hard life but one Kai likes—filled with bounty, a few friends, and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him of his past. And killing monsters is easy. Especially since he’s one himself.
But when a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego, Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It’s supposed to be a simple run up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary. Easy, quick, and best of all, profitable. But Kai ends up in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.
No one ever got rich being a Stalker. But then few of them got old either and it doesn’t look like Kai will be the exception.
My review: I always have difficulty deciding what rating to give a book, but I think when a book makes me want to talk about it non-stop after reading it, it deserves a pretty high rating. Black Dog Blues is firmly stuck in my mind now after reading it, and I want to blab about but will restrain myself from giving spoilers in this review. It will be difficult though.
Black Dog Blues is very different from the other books I’ve read from this author. Kai is not her first bisexual character, but it does seem to be the first book in which one of the main characters appreciates both sexes and kisses both in the same book. Ryder, the Sidhe Lord who contracts him for a job, definitely wants him. Part of him wants Ryder as well, but Kai doesn’t do relationships.Two women in the story also seem to vie for Kai’s attention.
Even though interests and attractions are expressed, this is definitely not a romance like the other books I’ve read from Rhys Ford. The story is very futuristic. A dystopian meets fantasy/sci-fi. I’m not sure if Kai’s decision not to have personal relationships has to do with the abuse he suffered as a youngling or if it is a product of the dangers of this new world. At the point this story takes place, there has been a merge. The Merge. It is talked about as a very significant event, where the elfin realm seems to have bled into the human world, cropping up into the middle of big cities and having the two species at war with each other. Once the humans and Sidhe/Unsidhe (elves light and dark) managed to create a truce, there was the matter of the creatures that came into the world with the Merge. Black dogs, whose blood and saliva are acidic, dragons, antelope bunnies; the world built in this book was frightening and amazing at once.
Though Kai is not human he is not Sidhe or Unsidhe either, he is some combination of the two that is reviled by both races and it leads to a lot of trouble for Kai. In the middle of trying to help Ryder and hunting Black Dogs, his past tries to catch up with him and destroy him. I can’t really say much else without giving away keypoints in the story. The characters were believable, even the non-human ones showing their weaknesses and strengths. The new state of the planet was fascinating and intriguing, but scary. I had to question how long I would have survived there. The blending of human cultures in the San Diego, California region was interesting, creating a new language and culture completely.
I am very excited that this is just the first book in the series. Though the ending of this book leaves Kai in Limbo regarding any romance, I believe that it might be touched on in the next book with at least one of the characters from this book, maybe two, and that kind of excites me, even while wanting him to be with one in particular. And though he outran his past for the moment, it will surely come back to haunt him once again in the next book. The only problem I have now is waiting for it.
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