Mongrel by K.Z. Snow
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Historical, Steampunk, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (202 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Foxglove
Hunzinger's Mechanical Circus, a rollicking seaside carnival where imagination meets machinery, shines as the only bright spot in the dreary city of Purinton. A shadow is cast there one day when a tall, cloaked figure approaches the stand of Will Marchman, a young patent-medicine salesman. Fanule Perfidor, commonly known as the Dog King, isn't welcome at the Circus. No resident of Taintwell is; they're all Branded Mongrels, officially shunned. But Will is beguiled by the stunning, mysterious Perfidor. Their mutual wariness soon gives way to desire, and a bond forms.
Soon the naive but plucky pitchman becomes embroiled in a dangerous quest. Fanule suspects Alphonse Hunzinger and Purinton's civic leaders are responsible for the disappearance or incarceration of countless Branded Mongrels. But why? As Will's passion and regard for his tormented lover grow, he's determined to help Fanule get answers and prevent any further persecution... or worse. They just have to stay together—and stay alive long enough—to see their plan through.
The world where the Mongrels and the Pures meet is a mystic one, wonderfully reminiscent of Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes and King & Straub's The Talisman in tone, mood, and setting.
Ms. Snow carries her readers away on a journey of language as smooth as the rippling of Fanule's cloak. The striking man carries a mark of 40:60 at his throat, Branding him a Mongrel, forty percent human, sixty percent unknown, but young Will, a Pure human, can't help be drawn to Fanule, even against his better judgment, and that of a society that looks down both on Mongrels and men who enjoy the pleasures of other men. The reader feels this attraction right along with Will's, as well as Fanule's attraction for him. Along with their attraction, the two men discover that they have similar goals and needs, and they work together to see their needs met and their goals become reality.
The characters in Mongrel, both the heroes and the secondary characters, are exceptionally well-formed and fleshed out. All have their good sides and their bad sides, their ups and downs. I enjoyed the fact that I wasn't sure which side some characters would end up on when we first met them; as in real life, we were kept guessing for awhile. In addition to the primary romance, which is at turns both tender and heated, there is a secondary romance between two other characters, which helps build on the primary romance. The universe this book is set in is well thought out and well made. In addition to the Mongrels and the steampunk aspect, there a few other paranormal creatures, but it never gets overwhelming or confusing, and is all very believable. While the mystery/suspense facet of the story is probably equal in amount to the romance facet, the two dovetail together very well to make a fast-paced, exciting story.
Mongrel is a must for fans of steampunk, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a historical romance with a little something extra. The fantastical setting and engaging characters will stay in your mind long after reading, and I hope there will be more books set in this world.