Congratulations to author Richard J. O’Brien, on the release of his latest novel, To Dream the Blackbane!
To Dream the Blackbane
Publication Date: December 29th, 2018
Genre: Fantasy/ Urban Fantasy
A cosmic event in 2015 fused Earth with the faerie realm. Scientists referred to the event as The Anomaly. A byproduct of The Anomaly was the advent of hybrid beings—people who became mixed with whatever animal or object was closest to them the moment the event occurred. Humans, or pedigrees, soon relegated fairy refugees and hybrids into ghetto zones in large cities.
Seventy years later, Wolfgang Rex, a second-generation hybrid—part human, part Rhodesian Ridgeback—is a retired police detective who runs a private investigation business in Chicago’s Southside. It’s a one-hybrid show; though Rex couldn’t survive without his assistant, the faerie Sally Sandweb.
One night, two vampires visit Rex and offer him a substantial reward for the recovery of a stolen scroll. Later that same evening, Charlotte Sweeney-Jarhadill, a pedigree woman from Louisiana, visits Rex and hires him to exorcize the headless ghost of a Confederate soldier from her home.
To complicate matters, the private detective ends up falling for Charlotte. Meanwhile, the vampires demand results in the search for the missing scroll. When Rex’s assistant Sally goes missing, he must stay alive long enough to find her. Charlotte and the vampires, however, have other plans for Rex.
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My name is Wolfgang Rex. I am a private detective. Once upon a time I’d been a police lieutenant. After twenty-five years of service to the city of Chicago, I retired in 2063 and opened up Chi-town Detectives, a private investigation firm.
I’m what they call in the medical books a second-generation Anomalous cross-breed. My father was a cop like me. One night he was out walking his dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Rex. My mother hated that dog. After she died I learned that she had always wished that Rex would meet some unfortunate demise. She got her wish on the night of The Anomaly. My father came home from his walk without the dog—in a manner of speaking. For lack of a better term, he and the dog had fused. And the result was a humanoid—with a hairy body, a tail, and the head of his old dog Rex. My mother was horrified, but my parents were both Catholic. So they stuck it out. I was born in the tenth year of The Anomaly. When I was a kid, my mother used to read me fairy tales. She died before I finished high school. So it goes, like Kurt Vonnegut once wrote. I turned out to be the spitting image of my father post-Anomaly. I lucked out with being born without a tail. My father had somehow managed to keep his human vocal cords. My face was less hairy than his, but our snouts were nearly identical.
Learning to speak with a dog’s mouth was tricky when I was coming up, but I eventually got the hang of it. And thank Christ I’d been born with opposable thumbs; otherwise, I would’ve starved to death a long time ago. Still, given that many people melded with inanimate objects—much like that poor bastard who became a stone gargoyle—I constantly considered myself lucky. My father cursed his lot for the rest of his life. Some people, like my old man, never learned to adjust.
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About the Author
Richard J. O’Brien is a graduate of the Fairleigh Dickinson University MFA in Creative Writing Program. Richard’s novels include Under the Bronze Moon, Infestation, and The Garden of Fragile Things. His short stories have appeared in The Del Sol Review, Duende, Pulp Literature, The Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, Weirdbook, and other magazines. Richard lives in New Jersey, where he teaches at Rowan College at Gloucester County and Stockton University.
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There’s something about reading detective fantasy that never quite gets old. The main character of this novel, Wolfgang Rex, is a hybird between a human and a dog. I imagined McGruff the crime fighting dog, personally. In fact, it amused me very much so to think of it that way. Wolfgang is a private eye and the tone of the narrative is much the same. It reads like a noir detective novel except there are fairies, orcs, and a lot of hybirds between humans and various animals. It’s an odd visual and certainly, if you’re like me and enjoy reading things that are just odd in their very nature, you’ll find yourself liking this world of magic.
This book is told in first person narration. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the main character and perhaps it’s because his attitude embodies those old timey detectives of yonder days. So, if you’re a fan of those types of attitudes for a main detective character, then it will be up your alley. I was more of a fan of side characters and that’s because they are a very colorful bunch.
Characterizations were doing pretty well. Though, the motivations of the main character were sometimes unclear to me. But I liked Sally and how her character was portrayed. Charlotte was a really weird character for me but it came together in the end of the book and previous actions began to make sense. Also, I think it important to know, since I’m mentioning Charlotte, that there is a lot of scenes involving sex (though, it doesn’t get into the type of explicit where you would see things like “His Man Rod of Power”) and it can be a little jarring given that there are quite a few animal hybird characters. COUGHthemaincharacterCOUGH
The plot is fairly linear until the last quarter of the book. Given the setting does take place in a magical world, a lot of fantastical elements came into play that last quarter of the book. It does make me think this book is first in a series. Which, if that is the case, it’ll be interesting to see where the book goes. As a standalone though, it wouldn’t make much sense.
Overall, I thought this was a creative approach to a fantasy detective series and I enjoyed the majority of the book. I would recommend it to those who like weird detective series and especially if they liked McGruff.
May you get lost in a book,