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Dog Days by John Levitt

I read Dog Days one weekend after Fluffy left town. I wanted to curl up with a good book, enjoy some sunlight, and basically just lose myself in a fantasy world for a little bit. I got that, but it wasn't the idyllic book I was half expecting when I picked it up. Instead, Dog Days ended up being one of those books that got me thinking long after I finished reading it.

In other words, I enjoyed it.

John's writing style is very easy on the eyes, but a bit hard on building a picture for me. It wasn't the dead silence as I try to picture the scenes, but the more fantasical creatures really were hard to picture. I managed to get through the 297 pages in about three hours which for me is a decent rate. I didn't really stumble over anything, except for a single scene in the park.

I like cosmology in my books. I like to see a hint of the rules behind what is being told. When they are splayed out right in front of me, it isn't as exciting as getting little hints and there. Levitt found a good balance of exposition through most of the story and pulled back the curtain in a very pleasant manner.

Sadly, this book isn't for Fluffy. She has some rules about reading books and watching movies. This book triggered one of those: animals (in specific dogs) get hurt or killed. She nearly broke my hand when we watched Payback. It's one of those illogical things, but I thought even those specific events were very well done, glossed over in the right places and emotionally meaningful.

The flow of the book worked well the sense of humor and confusion, winding back and forth until it came to a rather satisfying ending. It wasn't excessively graphical, but it did managed to poke me in one of the topics I don't like: prophecies. It isn't a major part of the plot, actually, I thought it was kind of tacked on as flavor and a lame joke, but it really didn't do anything to me. Mr. Levitt talks about it being useless until after it already happened, and I agree (and kind of wish it was just left out entirely). I really don't like hints for foretelling anymore than I like people who know everything but won't tell.

I also liked how Mr. Levitt showed the different styles and politics of magic. As an urban fiction, naturally there has to be some justification for the secrecy. It is one of those "yeah, yeah, move on to the other stuff" points for me, but it did pique my interest a bit. But, same basic idea: magic people have to hide.

Though, there was one point of that secrecy that I really liked. The entire discussions about enlightenment and withdrawing from the world. That is something I adored in Blue Moon Rising and I was extremely happy to see something similar here.

It is hard not to love characters in this book. Many of the main ones have a depth to them that just starts building as the story goes on. Someone I thought was going to be a secondary character, barely worth a description, ended up being a lot more important and kind of cool. Likewise, John created a wonderful personality in Louie, the spirit dog, and with Mason, the main character. I could easily get emotionally attached to both of them. I also started to get attached to the girlfriend in the story, but that went in a direction that I didn't even remotely expect.

And that leads to the final thing I liked about this story: people are touched by their events. I like that. It is one of those things I want in my own writing. The story ended on a good note, but it wasn't all roses and sunshine. Instead, he managed to give that emotional kick in the rear with the last few pages by showing the scars the characters gained during their recovery after the final happenings.

And I thought that was awesome.

Would I recommend it? Yes, to those who like their urban fiction a little dark and don't mind the occasional animal being hurt. I'll read it again, right before I grab any sequel.