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I Belong

Review: Black Dog by Caitlin Kittredge

Black DogTitle: Black Dog

Author: Caitlin Kittredge

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Hellhound Chronicles (Book #1)

Publication Date: October 28, 2014

Format: Paperback, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062316915 (HarperCollins)

ISBN-13: 978-0062316912 (HarperCollins)

Reviewed by: Steph


The first installment in a fabulous dark urban fantasy series—think Kill Bill with demons and gangsters instead of martial arts—from the award-winning author of the Iron Codex trilogy and Vertigo comic Coffin Hill…

Ava has spent the last hundred years as a hellhound, the indentured servant of a reaper who hunts errant souls and sends them to Hell. When a human necromancer convinces her to steal her reaper’s scythe, Ava incurs the wrath of the demon Lilith, her reaper’s boss.

As punishment for her transgression, Lilith orders Ava to track down the last soul in her reaper’s ledger . . . or die trying.

But after a hundred years of servitude, it’s time for payback. And Hell hath no fury like an avenging Ava . .

Quick & Dirty: A Hellhound finds herself in deep trouble when she kills her reaper and must make it up to her reaper’s demon boss in this dark and gritty first book in the Hellhound Chronicles series.

Opening Sentence: Knowing that a person is marked for death is a strange feeling, one that crawls inside you and puts down roots.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

For the past hundred years, Ava has been a Hellhound, retrieving the souls of those her reaper sends her after. It hasn’t been a fun existence, but at least she’s alive. Then one night on a job, she meets Leonid Karpov, a necromancer who captures and tortures her until she agrees to steal her reaper’s Scythe for him. In the aftermath of the battle that follows, Ava’s reaper is dead, Leo’s father has stolen the Scythe, and Ava is in deep trouble with her reaper’s boss, Lilith. Rather than kill Ava outright, Lilith orders her to go after the one person her reaper had never been able to capture. Agreeing to do this will lead Ava to discover things about the supernatural world – and herself – that she never imagined existed. Eventually, Ava will have to decide whose side she’s really on. Will she continue to follow Lilith’s orders, or will Ava find the strength inside herself to refuse?

I’ve only read one other Caitlin Kittredge book before, and while I enjoyed it, I never continued the series. So I was cautiously optimistic about reading this book. For the most part, my optimism proved correct, for this was an entertaining, fast paced read, full of interesting characters. Despite the fast pace though, I still felt a little disconnected from the main characters, which led me to give the book a slightly lower rating than I might otherwise have done.

One of my all-time favorite television shows is Supernatural, and this book often felt like one big Supernatural episode, except it was from the perspective of the monsters. I half expected Sam and Dean to show up at any moment to kick some butt. Just as with that show, the material here gets very dark at times. Readers who aren’t comfortable with their heroines doing questionable things (e.g., killing without remorse) may want to look elsewhere. Those who don’t mind a little darkness in their books though should definitely check this one out.

As I stated previously, I did feel a bit disconnected from the main characters, which is odd, considering the book is told in Ava’s first person perspective, something that usually helps me connect to the main character. I can’t quite put my finger on why I couldn’t connect with her. Figuring out why I didn’t connect to Leo was a little easier. The first time we’re introduced to him, he’s torturing Ava, something that she seems to get over quickly, but I had a harder time doing. In the end, I liked him, but he’s certainly not an easy character to connect to.

All in all, I would say this book is definitely worth checking out if you don’t mind a darker, gritty read. Kittredge has created a very interesting world with very intriguing characters/creatures, and I think it will only get better from here.

Notable Scene:

“Gary’s last outstanding collection is in Wyoming,” she said. “He’s been tracking him since the early seventies at least. I wasn’t too happy that Gary never managed to collect from the prick, but now, if you want a chance in any realm of keeping flesh on that skinny ass of yours, you’ll get him, reap him, and bring him to me.”

She pointed to a legible name surrounded by blacked out collections, the ones Gary had completed. I wondered how many of those names I’d been responsible for. Gary’s obsessive compulsive handwriting spelled out Clint Hicks. I risked making eye contact with Lilith, which was like staring at a well-dressed bird of prey. “What’s his deal?”

“I don’t micromanage my employees,” she snapped. “I don’t know why meat sacks choose to sell any more than I know why Gary decided you were worth making part of his hound pack. Which is probably a good thing, because I would have told him to let you rot.”

“I’ve been getting that a lot,” I muttered.

“The last hound Gary sent got sent back on a ventilator,” the demon said. “I understand this Clint Hicks surrounds himself with shifters, and when Gary came to me to track him personally, I found he had measures in place to keep Hellspawn out of the area.”

“This hound,” I said, feeling sickness that wasn’t caused by Lilith grip my guts. “Was his name Wilson?”

“How the fuck do I know what his name was?” Lilith snapped. “For all I know, Gary calls you Sparky, Rover, and Spot. The countermeasures won’t keep me out for long, but breaking them is more effort than I’m going to put into one damned soul who thinks he’s smart, so go and fetch him.”

There was that word again. Fetch. But since it was coming out of the mouth of a thousand-year-old demon, I pretended it didn’t bother me.

I just nodded. Lilith opened the bathroom door and walked out, turning back only once.

“Ava, if you screw this up, do yourself a favor and walk into traffic before I find you. Because if I do, the Pit is going to be a vacation compared to what I have planned.”

Hellhound Chronicles:

1. Black Dog

2. Grim Tidings (April 19, 2016)


FTC Advisory: HarperCollins/Harper Voyager provided me with a copy of Black Dog. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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