Swift & the Black Dog, by Ginn Hale
Publisher: Blind Eye Books
Release Date: Sep 7, 2016
When Jack Swift killed a tyrant and won the revolution he became a national hero. But someone in the new government prefers dead heroes to living, swearing, cynical wizards. Caught between bullets, revenge and desire, Jack had better be swift indeed.
Also available in the Charmed & Dangerous Anthology.
Science Fiction / Fantasy
Content Warnings for:
Death of Secondary Character
Mention of Child Abuse, Torture, Murder, Mass Execution
I’ve been a fan of Ginn Hale for a while now and I’m always super happy when authors not only write great novels but are good at writing short stories as well. It’s a different craft and, to be honest, I don’t think everybody is good at both. Since I’m a fan I just one-clicked when I saw that there was a short story by her that I thought I hadn’t read. Um, turns out the same story was already published in the anthology Charmed & Dangerous, which I had, in fact, already read, but never mind, this shortie is so good that a second read was no hardship at all.
Swift & the Black Dog is set in a complex and unique fantasy setting with a former tyrant who was killed by four teenage wizards ten years ago. They all have different ways (magic) and we witness in this book what happens to them and to the society when not everything changes only because one bad sovereign disappears (something that is repeated again and again in our own history in this world).
What I find really refreshing is that these former teenagers are no heroes. Well, they are painted like it in the media but the truth is that they are really not. They come from terrible backgrounds, were abandoned, abused. It is no surprise that they are not the sanest or nicest of characters.
The story is written from one of these characters, Swift, who has to face betrayal and loss, but unexpected help might just melt his stony heart and give him a wish to live.
The world building is complex, the characters intriguing, and the plot unexpected on several occasions. I appreciate a lot that the darker side of the story takes place off-page and is only mentioned to give explanations and more depths to the story or the characters’ backgrounds. So while this is really not a fluffy story, it isn’t in your face dark as well.
All in all, I think this is a great story and if you like shorts and fantasy, I’d suggest you check this out.