Reviews

Stray Dogs, by Tony Fleecs

haveloved's review

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dark sad tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix

5.0

(huge cws: The story, while from the perspective of the dogs, concerns a serial killer who targets women and takes their dogs as trophies. There are [relatively non-graphic] flashbacks to violence against women, and implications of violence against dogs, including animal death.)
 
Pitched as "Silence of the Lambs meets All Dogs Go to Heaven," Sophie, an anxious dog, is brought to the homestead of her new owner. While she's welcomed by the other dogs, including the friendly Rusty, Sophie soon remembers that the master is not all he seems--and that he killed her owner. The other dogs are reluctant to believe the master could possibly do such a thing, but the house holds many secrets, and each dog has to decide what they're willing to learn.

The content warnings have probably convinced many not to go near this with a ten-foot pole, which is completely understandable. While I felt Fleecs and his co-creator Forstner handled the depictions of animal violence and death sensitively, this is absolutely something many will be upset by; I definitely cried at times. We all know serial killers tend to start by harming animals, so I knew violence and death had a place in this story, but it's tough to look at regardless. (There are at least a few reviews out there from Hannibal fans who say this reminded them of the presence Will's dogs have in the show. If you can handle Hannibal, you will probably like this story.)

That said, Stray Dogs was an amazing thriller, and I love how inventive the premise was. Fleecs uses the dogs' short-term memories to remarkable effect, and while it does get a bit repetitive towards the end for most of the dogs to have Big Moments where they remember what led them to the homestead, some of the reveals are astonishingly well-done; Earl's really took my breath away. The creative team began working together on My Little Pony comics, so their drawings of animal life are vivid, expressive, and colorful. (But holy moly I hope there aren't any parents out there who bought this for their kids unknowingly.)

Last year I read, and mostly disliked, The Shining Girls, which felt like a story that wanted to honor victims of serial killers but instead just felt like a lurid exploration of their deaths. I couldn't quite figure out why this felt different to me, but I think what made me like it better than The Shining Girls was that unlike most serial killer stories I've read, Fleecs doesn't bother putting us inside the killer's head and expecting us to understand him, and gory justice is served in the end. (Dog Days also delivers a satisfying coda of the victims' families beginning to receive closure.) I felt that Fleecs and the artists did a great job portraying the master as a violent incel without going overboard--we get glimpses of him trying to interact with women who snub him, and his rage at their disinterest is portrayed through snatches of dialogue and superbly drawn body language. Fleecs and co. clearly love and appreciate the place animals have in our lives, and the use of animal perspectives to tell a pretty haunting story about what their inner lives might be like was really engaging. 

xen_28's review

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dark tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated

4.5

margaretfrances's review

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3.0

slow to start, then got DARK. i couldn’t get a handle on mood. i think partly that was the 90s kids movie art.. story could have been darkly suspenseful if i believed that was the tone from the start. 

sharkleggings's review

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challenging dark mysterious reflective sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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mcribsy13's review

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adventurous dark tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

rtaire's review

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dark mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.0


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j_hall85's review

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4.0

Interesting concept but I guess I kept waiting for the twist. Ditto what everyone else said about the movie covers too.

snchard's review

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3.0

Beautiful Disney style artwork with an absolutely horrific plot. zI read the blurb, so I knew what I was getting into, but it was a little more gruesome that I expected. Content warnings for animal abuse, murder, on-page gore.

estherbismarck's review against another edition

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4.0

Triste pero muy entrañable.

catburps's review

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dark sad tense fast-paced

4.0