The locals say that on a clear night, which tonight certainly is not, you can find yourself being followed by Black Shuck. He’s a sort of fairy dog. If you see him – you die.
I love reading so much that sometimes when I want to take a break from reading I just read a smaller book instead. This is akin to a gym-junkie going to the gym every day, but sometimes doing the same exercises with tiny weights.
All avid readers have this common problem. That is the inability to read EVERYTHING! There are just too many books out there. At the moment, I feel like I have had Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on my TBR list for a very long time. The release of the TV series has only made me even more interested to read this book but I just can’t seem to get to it due to other distractions.
With this in mind, I was delighted to find Black Dog by the same author in my local library. The book was illustrated by Daniel Egnéus and, at only 79 pages, was a chance to sample both the author and illustrator for the first time. I promised myself that if I liked this, I would bump American Gods up nearer to the top of my reading list.
Black Dog is set in a rural village of North England. It incorporates the same world and main character, Shadow Moon, of American Gods. This makes Black Dog kind of a spin-off.
Shadow Moon has been on the road a while now but he can’t walk any further tonight, not with the rain lashing down. Gratefully, he heads home with a nice English couple, who offer a box room, hot whisky and local tales.
The locals tell Shadow Moon about a ghostly black dog that is said to appear from darkness just before you die. When a local man collapses while walking home at night, Shadow Moon is dragged into events that lurk in the background of this cosy little village.
Shadow Moon is an unusual protagonist in that he is not an investigator nor a ambitious troublemaker. He just wants to quietly exist (this is why he finds himself in England) but trouble seems to find him anyway. This made Black Dog an enjoyable read as events unfolded and poor Shadow Moon was unwittingly sucked further and further into a sinister plot.
For the short time it took to read, Black Dog was a very entertaining and atmospheric read. Neil Gaiman clearly has the ability to tell a good story and based on this evidence alone, it won’t be long before I follow Shadow Moon into the world of the American Gods.
Would I recommend this book to a friend?
Yes, this book is an ideal gift book in that it is perfect as a stand alone read but gives you a taste for something stronger. Most people enjoy a good murder mystery and that’s what you essentially get here.