Review of Black Dog Blues & Mad Lizard Mambo, by Rhys Ford

I won an Audible copy of Black Dog Blues from the narrator, Greg Tremblay and Queer Sci Fi. Because I enjoyed the first one, I borrowed an ecopy of the second (Mad Lizard Mambo) through Amazon. Thank you A.

Description from Goodreads:
Ever since being part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figures he used up his good karma when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races are left with a messy, monster-ridden world, and Stalkers are the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy appears.

It’s a hard life but one Kai likes—filled with bounty, a few friends, and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him of his past. And killing monsters is easy. Especially since he’s one himself.

But when a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego, Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It’s supposed to be a simple run up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary. Easy, quick, and best of all, profitable. But Kai ends up in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich being a Stalker. But then few of them got old either and it doesn’t look like Kai will be the exception.

I really quite enjoyed this. 8 hours and 50 minutes and I listed to it in one day. Seriously, I got all my laundry folded, cleaned my house, did a little knitting. It was great. I think what I liked most was Kai’s sarcasm and the rough, fatherly affections of the stalkers. I appreciated how the elfin and human societies sat side by side, chafing at the edges. As well as how Kai was bisexual and the slow, slow burn of the romance.

I was annoyed with how women were represented. There aren’t a lot of them and they’re all cliched. The untouchable angel, the whore, the sexually aggressive cousin, the raving bitch, the manipulator and the mother (who was also disloyal). There wasn’t a single non-problematic women in the book, when taken all together. Why does MM so often do this?

I also liked the narrations. I was a little iffy with the Irish lilt, given the appearance of the character on the cover and the obvious Japanese influence. It didn’t match what I would have imagined. But it worked, given his adoptive father and once I got used to it.

Description from Goodreads:
Kai Gracen has no intention of being anyone’s pawn. A pity Fate and SoCalGov have a different opinion on the matter.

Licensed Stalkers make their living hunting down monsters and dangerous criminals… and their lives are usually brief, brutal, and thankless. Despite being elfin and cursed with a nearly immortal lifespan, Kai didn’t expect to be any different. Then Ryder, the High Lord of the Southern Rise Court, arrived in San Diego, Kai’s not-so-mundane life went from mild mayhem to full-throttle chaos.

Now an official liaison between the growing Sidhe Court and the human populace, Kai is at Ryder’s beck and call for anything a High Lord might need a Stalker to do. Unfortunately for Kai, this means chasing down a flimsy rumor about an ancient lost Court somewhere in the Nevada desert—a court with powerful magics that might save Ryder—and Kai’s—people from becoming a bloody memory in their Merged world’s violent history.

The race for the elfin people’s salvation opens unwelcome windows into Kai’s murky past, and it could also slam the door on any future he might have with his own kind and Ryder.

I enjoyed this in much the same way I did the first. I still liked Kai’s sarcasm and his tough outer shell that guards a big, squishy heart. I still liked Ryder and the side characters. I liked where the story seems to be going and the mysteries that are being revealed about Kai.

I did think there were a lot of coincidental, none plot related things happen. Like getting caught in a sudden flash flood or a buffalo stampede. I kept waiting to find out there was a weather mage or something causing it, but that didn’t appear to be the case. Additionally, they were supposed to be going somewhere super dangerous, but they barely encountered any challenges.

Regardless, I hope the next comes out soon. I can’t wait to read it.

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