By Jonathan W. Thurston
Publication Date:  March  2018


Review by Liz Gatterer

From the very first page, I felt sure that this was going to be an intriguing read. There are several letters that have been stylized with a dramatic font. It doesn’t take long to figure out that if you connect the letters, they spell out the message – “We need the key”. And just like that, I was hooked. The temptation to scroll through the pages and find all of the letters was almost overpowering – but I resisted. The special effects on the pages continued. Some pages were different shades, some had text arranged in different ways but it was never distracting, it helped to draw me into the story and in some cases, made the link between the what was written and what was being said much clearer. I believe when an author manipulates the text that way, it technically changes it from prose to poetry. I couldn’t agree more.

The main character in this novella is Titus Anderson. Titus has had a bad day. He lost his boyfriend, his job, his dealer want to kill him, the landlady will most likely evict him, the townspeople see him as a pariah, oh… and he drives a Prius. You would have to be a pretty cold-hearted person to not feel for Titus. He is cast as the anti-hero that would really have liked to be the hero but thinks he can’t be. I think this is a trap many people fall into and can’t see a way out of on their own. It’s an example of the “whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right” type of situation.

The people of Hollow Rapids, Massachusetts are split into two groups “Church Folk” and “Night Folk”. The former being those that conform to conventional standards of “good” but aren’t necessarily good people, and the later are those that won’t or can’t fit in that box. Titus is “Night Folk”. He recalls how when he was young, the world was full of color. But, as an adult – the world shifted to just black and white and he fell into the black category. More than once, he wishes he could be clean again. The hopelessness and isolation he feels are reflected in the background as the pages begin to darken from pure white to black. It is heartbreaking. Titus is tempted to just drive his car off the road and end it all. That is when he runs over the dog. But this is no ordinary dog. It is a demon. It is a demon sent to Earth by God to stop other demons. But should one trust a demon?

The Devil Has a Black dog is a fantastic read. For those of us that like stories that require a bit of thought and reflection to really appreciate, it is a rare treat. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and maybe A.N. Roquelaure should really enjoy this updated parable about perils of vice and vengeance and the cost of sacrifice and virtue.