Reviews

The Dawnhounds, by Sascha Stronach

fairymodmother's review against another edition

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2.0

Don't read if you want to go into this without expectations! Rating will be posted when SFFBC has had time to comment.


The prologue on this was brilliant. I loved the biotech, the setting, the unexpected gut punch of the attack...it was really engrossing.

Unfortunately, this is the only chapter that was polished to this extent. The rest needs a serious editing.

Most of my review is going to be about this editing, because the story was so confused that I'm not sure I can say with confidence what was going on.

A couple really cool things:

I think the mythology and the magic show a lot of promise. I really wanted to know more about this.
The tech seemed great, and I liked the fungal element. Again. wanted more.
I think the body horror was exactly the right dose to make it terrifying but not go over to grimdark.

There are a lot of inconsistencies in this book though. It was very clear that the author had "pantsed" sections (as in writing without an outline) and hadn't gone back to make things match up, so a lot of repeat info, a lot of small changes that all served as stumbling blocks.

This is also apparent in the lack of graceful transitions. We suddenly just start new scenes with new motivations and a new spin on what had happened previously. It made for a very clunky read that was hard to stay immersed in.

The ending was pretty much a mess. By about 60% I didn't understand in any sort of concrete sense what was happening, what it looked like, who was involved, or what the intent was, so I was kind of just waiting for the end. And THAT didn't make sense either.

I can also tell this was rushed because there are extremely easy grammatical fixes--changes in font size, missing periods, etc. that even basic copyediting would remedy. The author actually commented on this and it might be a technical issue with the version of file, but it does very little to inspire confidence.

A great first draft that needs probably a professional copy editor, and about 5 more beta readers who can give honest feedback.

ryan_dm's review against another edition

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2.0

Never have tree houses been so boring. A really good idea that wasn't explored well.

jvan's review against another edition

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3.0

I feel there's so many good ideas here, but that the execution makes it kind of muddled, and the copy I got in the USA at least is to be generous poorly edited and laid out. But the bio/fungus industrial revolution city is great, the ship I liked a lot, the basics of it seemed solid, it just...I don't know. Needed more edits/rewrites?

Also I have no idea what the title is supposed to refer to, probably I missed something?

trryan's review

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  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0


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xaphriel's review

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adventurous medium-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

4.5

octavia_cade's review against another edition

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4.0

I seem to be on a roll of fungal reads lately! And I've enjoyed them all, which is encouraging. Weird botany will just never be unappealing to me. To be honest, for most of these types of stories, it's the setting and the creepy mushrooms that interest me more than the characters. (Well, what can you expect from a botanist.) But The Dawnhounds bucks that trend a little, because the characters are a big part of what makes this such an interesting read. Yat, in particular, is extremely likeable - which helps as she is the protagonist of the piece. Yet the supporting characters are nearly all likeable as well, and that's more unusual. More importantly, they feel like they have lives and motivations of their own, outside of Yat. I get the feeling she's a bit player in their lives, most of them, which of course she should be. (Rarely do I find characterisation more irritating than when the supporting cast seems not to exist when they're not interacting with the hero/ine of the piece.)

There are some beautiful passages in here too. I tend to read for prose, and there are some lovely turns of phrase: "The stars are in their houses, the seas are drawing back - the walls are coming down, and magic is again in the world." There's the odd hint, too, that the author is from New Zealand - the yeah nah yeah, the kaka birds... it gives it all a sort of skewed familiar flavour, and I smiled each time to see it.

badmc's review against another edition

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3.0

Something is changing in the City of Hainak, made of biomass and fungus. What is an ailing, addict cop to do?

A quick and fun read, this book introduces us to a world and magic system that are confusing and vast - many things are left open for future exploration. I didn't connect to our main character (I have problem with addicts in narrative, as well as overbearing heroes), but side characters were interesting and got their moments to shine. Injustices of the world were many, and sometimes they were not-so-subtly hammered home, but I like that "the bad" came from the system and the social norms, as it is in life.

kaa's review against another edition

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No rating for now - this book had some fabulous ideas and occasionally excellent writing, but suffered from poor editing on every level, making it confusing and frustrating to read. I read that the author was working on this book for a decade, and I can absolutely see that - the world and characters and story are clearly vividly alive in his head, but the book veers between offering the reader too much information or not enough.

craftysilicate's review against another edition

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

5.0

dreaming_of_eutony's review against another edition

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4.0

An intricate tale of broken cities and broken hearts, of corrupt heroes and lost girls. Where gods and cops and priests and pirates pull the threads of power and greed and love between them until they snap. 


We meet Yat, a constable with the best of intentions and a cat that isn't hers. 
 Yat struggles through the day to day in a world where anyone who doesn't fit the proper mold is chipped away at until they do. 
 But there are much greater forces at work than the petty cruelties of human nature. 
And Yat unintentionally stumbles into their paths. 


 Our cast is beautifully diverse and lgbt+ representation is present in both main and side characters. 
 The world building is incredibly unique and I've read nothing like it before. The term "bio-punk" was not one I had come across before this book and immediately intrigued me. 
Think steampunk but with plants instead of steam power. 
There are threads of noir and a fine thin icing of horror woven throughout with a tasteful dashing of classical fantasy in the magic system. 
 The politics of this world are incredibly well thought out and detailed yet not so much as to bog the writing down with it. 

 The writing itself is like a poem or a dream realized on the page. It is whimsical and sharp, often sarcastically humourus and deeply emotional in the same paragraph. 
 I became very attached to all the characters and their individual quirks as I read and really enjoyed the subtle foreshadowing for the twists and turns of plot along the way. 
 
 I would love to read more of this world and its characters as the ending, while nearly tying up most loose ends left me wondering just enough to keep my wanting more. 

 Overall this is an excellent adult bio-punk horror and I'd highly recommend to anyone willing to dip their toe I to something different and refreshing and entirely delightful.