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Morgan Harcourt;Laylah Hunter;Thea Hayworth;Gryvon
Mongrel - K.Z. Snow
4.5 stars

Mongrel is a steam-punk fantasy about a world divided between the haves and the have nots

Human (pures) vs. Mongrel (tainted)

Puriton vs. Taintwell

the privileged vs. the shunned.

A romance fantasy with a theme of social injustice and discrimination running through it.

The story beginning is wonderfully done and Snow is in top form with her depiction of this world in full, rich Technicolor. She brings to life an oceanside boardwalk carny; a Mechanical Circus with its line of stalls manned by hawkers pushing their wares, and buildings housing steam-powered mechanisms to entertain. The Circus is the one bright spot in dreary Puriton, home to the human population.

“… the overdone facades… all strung together like a lineup of gaudy, aging whores. Colorful pennants snapped above their roofs… elaborate cornices and quatrefoil windows, little gargoyles… the permanent carnival that stretched along and beyond the boardwalk…”

Fanule… the Branded Mongrel, part human/part something else… he is mysterious and exotic and nobody’s mongrel. He has been elected Eminence of Taintwell, home to the Mongrel population. Fan has been chosen to represent and protect their interests. He has a troubled side though— has mood swings from euphoria to depression. He’s also as tough as he is vulnerable. He’s a captivating character with some very interesting friends: a randy vampire, Clancy Marrowbone, who has convenient teleportation skills, and the witch, Lizabetta, a revenant— murdered and dismembered— but existing in a spirit form, she’s a jumble of disjointed body parts that are given to floating about at random. Oh, and her equally dismembered cat, Lickshank, who is often preceded by his tail…

“… Lizabetta’s torso, draped in a simple chemise with drawstring neckline and scalloped hem, sat serenely on her sofa… (her) head, semi-translucent and wearing a happy smile, floated from a high shelf at the back of the room…”

Fanule and Clancy had a long-ago affair but when Fan meets Will Marchman, a comely snake-oil salesman at the Circus, he is quickly attracted. Theirs is a sensual, sweet love story, hot and yet somehow innocent. When Fan meets Will, he finally feels hope. I love that the two pursue a love affair despite public censure about humans “mixing” with Mongrels.

Snow is an adept storyteller— the opening chapters, so rich and thick with imagery, are a hard act to follow. There is certainly a lot to cram into a mere two-hundred pages and at times things felt a bit rushed. While they were wonderfully evil, I would have liked a little more detail about the no-good, bad guys. The threat would have seemed greater if those characters had been more fully drawn, especially towards the end. Still, Mongrel was a stylish, very enjoyable read and I look forward to more stories in this world. For this review and lots more please visit: The Blog of Sid Love