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Monday, January 13, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

Title: Black Dog
Author: Rachel Neumeier
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: February 6 2014
Publishing House: Strange Chemistry
ISBN: 1908844841
Source of Copy: Requested from Publisher via NetGalley


Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge - the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases - like Natividad's father and older brother - Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad's mother can finish her magic and their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brother's must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.

Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister's Pure magic. Natividad's twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.

But first they must survive the looming battle.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads.)


I was hoping to like Black Dog, I really was. But it's not exactly easy to get into a story that's slow and really, really confusing.

Before Natividad's parents died, they forced Natividad and her siblings to run to the Dimilioc black dogs to find refuge. When they do, it's not an easy thing to gain acceptance into the pack, what with her parents' killers right behind them and a forced mating between Natividad and a black dog of her choosing - when she comes of age. But the mating can wait they'll have to deal with the black dogs determined to kill them first.

Natividad is boring. It's so hard to write about a character that's boring because while I don't loathe her, I don't like her either. She just fades into the woodwork, you know? Like she isn't even there. I don't even get why she's so special. I mean, she's a Pure. And so? Ezekiel is the black dog who's sniffing around Natividad's heels. I so wanted him to be interesting, but he just wasn't. He's domineering and possessive - not unlike the other alpha males of YA - and he's already claimed Natividad as his and they've barely spoken to each other. Instant love? not really because despite Ezekiel's attraction, I'm not exactly sure where Natividad stands.

Another thing I was surprised about was the dual POVs. I wasn't expecting that. They switch between Alejandro - Natividad's older, black dog brother - and Natividad. Alejandro's parts are somehow repetitive and I had to stop myself from skimming through them because what if I end up missing some important detail, right? Ugh. No. They were full of Alejandro trying to control his powers, hating on Ezekiel, worrying about his siblings and basically second guessing all his decisions. 

And you know what hurts? How slow the story was. At one point I felt like it was an endless trek through tons of decision making, arguments, dominance challenges and posturing. The plot wasn't very engaging despite this being a new twist on the old werewolves and witches tale. There was little to no back story too, there was mention of vampires if I'm not mistaken but their role in everything is vague at best. 

I hate that feeling when I finish a book and feel the need to ask what in the world just happened there. That's exactly how I felt when I finished this book, like nothing was actually resolved. Kind of sad if you think about it. 



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