Title: Mongrel Trilogy Bundle
Author: K.Z. Snow
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 475 Pages
Category: Steampunk, Paranormal Fantasy
At a Glance: I loved this series, folks. I’m so very glad I read it; and read it again.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: One day a shadow is cast on the Mechanical Circus, a rollicking seaside carnival where imagination meets machinery, when a tall, cloaked figure approaches the stand of Will Marchman, a young patent-medicine salesman. Thus begins the adventures of Will; Fanule Perfidor, commonly known as the Dog King; vampire Clancy Marrowbone; and Clancy’s former lover, the mortal Simon Bentcross.
Review: I remember when I became aware of KZ Snow’s Mongrel Trilogy. The second book, Merman, had just been released, but at the time I was still in my contemporary romance bubble, so it just seemed too “out there” for me. I know. Lame. However, I did go check out the info on Mongrel, and it was definitely intriguing. That cover, right? And, the blurb: Hunzinger’s Mechanical Circus…Fanule Perfidor—how cool is that name?—Purinton vs Taintwell…Sooo much intrigue. BUT, I still held off. Fast forward to last spring, when Dreamspinner was releasing the trilogy bundle. I said to Lisa, “Hey, I’m thinking about jumping on this Mongrel Trilogy Bundle…” Before I could even get all the words out, she said, “DO IT!” So, I did it. And, then last week I did it again. 😀
While I was reading Mongrel, I was totally kicking myself for not reading it sooner. So good, you guys. But then, when I finished, and was able to move immediately on to Merman, and then to Machine, I was so glad I had this bundle, and didn’t have to wait!! The stories flow so nicely one after the other. In Mongrel we meet, and fall madly in love with, Fanule Perfidor—The Dog King, and newly elected Eminence of Taintwell—and Will Marchman, a salesman who runs a cart inside Hunzinger’s Mechanical Circus. We also meet Clancy Marrowbone and Simon Bentcross, the charming vampire and bounty hunter who take center stage in the second book. And, finally, you roll into Machine, the final book, which some might consider another Fan and Will story, but which I actually view as an ensemble piece.
The world KZ Snow starts building in Mongrel is so fantastic and lush. The pictures she paints of the circus as well as both the town of Purinton and the village of Taintwell are so vivid: rich in elements of steampunk and paranormal fantasy. Everything is so clear in my mind’s eye—from all the visuals, right down to the characters’ voices. And, Fan and Will…guhhhh. What can I say about these two? They are so well-matched and so sexy and sensual together. I absolutely adored them. There is a mystery surrounding the circus, the disappearance of a number of branded mongrels from Taintwell, and the elixir that Will sells, which is extremely well-plotted and exciting. I also very much liked and respected how Snow dealt with Fan’s affliction with bipolar disorder throughout the series. Fan’s story moved me a lot. When he discussed his ears, and their mutilation, with Will, I couldn’t help but get a bit teary-eyed.
“The memory made Fanule’s throat tighten. ‘Upswept and tapered, as elegant as wings. And more a part of me than anyone could ever know.’”
In Merman the story moves away from Will and Fan as the principles, and focuses much more on Clancy, who has just returned to Taintwell after a two year absence. Marrowbone is always welcome in Taintwell—he is a hero to the mongrels since he stopped the practice of branding by threatening the Pures—but, he left the village after the events in the first book, deciding he needed to distance himself from his new lover, Simon Bentcross. His pull to Simon is impossible to ignore, of course, and he returns to his friend Fan’s house to check in. He finds out that Simon has developed a submersible that the leaders of Purinton want to use in their secretive Tower Hole Project. Clancy also runs into an old acquaintance—Jordy Hawkes, an inmate he used to feed from and became friendly with many years ago—who has mysteriously transformed into some type of magical merman-vampire hybrid. Jordy is not entirely what he appears to be, however, and both Clancy and Simon soon end up wrapped up in a dangerous situation. The story was fast paced and interesting enough, but for whatever reason it was the weakest of the three for me. One of my favorite parts of the story was the continued development of Clancy and Fan’s friendship. Maybe I’m just a Fan girl. 😉
The series finishes strongly with Machine. From the fantastically eerie opening…
“Starless midnight. November had begun. The air, bearing small blades of frost, hinted at December’s cruelty.
Like a gilded and festooned ark, a showy wagon crept down Division Highway. Its wheels creaked laboriously as they made their slow revolutions through the dirt. The highway was deserted. A team of black horses plodded silently before the wagon, their hooves never touching the ground.
The driver paused at Whitesbain Plank Road and, considering, directed a narrow-eyed look down its shadowed length.
‘Not yet,’ he whispered after a moment.”
…to the final swoony scene between Will and Fan, this book is completely gripping. The mysterious, creepy wagon, and its equally creepy driver appear in Taintwell, claiming the ability to “cleanse” the wickedness out of the village’s citizens. It seems religion has come to town; and not the peaceful, healing kind, but the overbearing, fire and brimstone kind.
As the blurb tells us, in this story Fan is struggling greatly with his illness. To the point, in fact, that he drives his beloved Will away. But, as things unfold, it is up to him to fight to regain himself, and save those dearest to him from the evil that has set upon them all. And, fight he does. I loved Fan’s character development and heroism in Machine. And, I loved, loved this line from his close friend and healer, Betty:
“You know, dear Fan, you’ve not only earned your title, you’ve infused it with meaning. ‘Eminence of Taintwell’ no longer sounds pompous and silly. It sounds majestic. And it suits you.”
I loved this series, folks. I’m so very glad I read it; and read it again. If you haven’t yet picked it up, the trilogy bundle is an unbeatable price, and so worth your time. Go get it!
You can buy Mongrel Trilogy Bundle here: