Review: Black Dog by Caitlin Kittredge

Posted October 19, 2014 by Jessica in Jessica, Reviews, Urban Fantasy / 38 Comments

Review: Black Dog by Caitlin Kittredge
Black Dog by Caitlin Kittredge
Series: Hellhound Chronicles #1
Published by Harper Voyager
Published on: October 28 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
One StarOne Star
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The first installment in a fabulous dark urban fantasy series—think Kill Bill with demons and gangsters instead of martial arts—from the award-winning author of the Iron Codex trilogy and Vertigo comic Coffin Hill

Ava has spent the last hundred years as a hellhound, the indentured servant of a reaper who hunts errant souls and sends them to Hell. When a human necromancer convinces her to steal her reaper’s scythe, Ava incurs the wrath of the demon Lilith, her reaper’s boss.

As punishment for her transgression, Lilith orders Ava to track down the last soul in her reaper’s ledger . . . or die trying.

But after a hundred years of servitude, it’s time for payback. And Hell hath no fury like an avenging Ava . . .

paranormal beast ZOMBIE BADBOY


The first thing I want to say about this book is that my main issue was a matter of personal preference. It’s impossible to really like a book when you don’t like the heroine, and the heroine . . . I did not like.

Neither am I a huge fan of zombies and voodoo/necromancy or angels as supernatural creatures in urban fantasy (just b/c a book has demons—and weirdly, as much as I typically dislike angels in my UF, I think demons are aces—doesn’t mean there will be angels).

This time, however, there were. *shrugs*

BUT if dead things and/or angels are your thing, you might love this book. Moving on . . .

Any Supernatural fans out there?

I’m a few seasons behind, but I think it’s pretty great. If you haven’t watched Supernatural, it’s about two brothers who hunt/kill/send back to Hell ghosts/monsters/demons. When I checked out, it had evolved from misc. monster hunting to an approaching Armageddon<——I’m consistent.

Black Dog is kind of like Supernatural from the demon’s perspective. If the demon was a hellhound meant to inspire sympathy b/c of her dainty human form and indentured servitude to a big meanie hellspawn.

And that’s where things went wrong for me. You see . . . while the slavery aspect of being a hellhound definitely sucks, you cannot be a hellhound without making a deal with the proverbial devil.

Hellhounds aren’t the offspring of a group of people who made the deal eons ago and are still paying for their ancestors’ mistake. They aren’t a strange and new amalgamation, created by the minions of Hell, forced to serve and exist in misery. NOPE. They are NOT. Every, single one of them signs up for the gig. When Ava died, a reaper came to her and offered her a choice.

Ava chose . . . poorly.

“But how did Ava die?” you ask.

Well . . . Ava had a boyfriend who liked to drink when he was feeling sorry for himself, and when he was good and drunk, he’d beat the shit out of her. Poor thing, I know. Except instead of kicking him to the curb, b/c abusive asshole, she started sleeping with his best friend, b/c serves him right.

And that’s not all Ava’s doing with these guys.

One of Best Friend’s ancestors was some kind of voodoo priestess who sacrificed a bunch of children to open a gate to Hell, and the three of them are out in the bayou trying to find where she did it, so that they can call up some ghost to get power (b/c power).

But it all goes sideways for Ava when these two upstanding young men make her the sacrifice.

Huh . . . I guess they left that part out. You can’t blame her for being surprised though, b/c the sacrifice was supposed to be a “pure” soul . . .

SO. Ava makes LOTS of bad choices.

She’s also supposed to be one tough chick. You can torture her, and she will not flinch. She’s used to it. Learned how to swallow the pain years ago. And she will cut you.

One. Tough. Chick.

When she’s not on a crying jag:

I slammed the door behind me, threw the bolt, and curled up on the faded bed . . . Pressing the musty feather pillow against my face, I sobbed until I thought my chest would crack open . . . I hadn’t realized it until this moment that I was alone, and I’d been stupid to ever think anything else.

Or having a panic attack:

I fell to the ground without realizing it. There was a terrible wheezing sound loud in my ears, and something slamming against my ribs from the inside as the weight got heavier and heavier, choking off my air entirely.

Or feeling sorry for herself:

If there was a level ten stories below ground from pathetic, I was probably there.

Characters make mistakes. It’s inevitable. It’s what they do after they make mistakes that counts, and IMO . . . Ava could have handled it better. But that’s not the biggest problem for me. *sighs* I can’t help it. I just don’t like her.

Beyond that, Black Dog by Caitlin Kittredge was a pretty good book. The plot was interesting, especially if you’re into the whole good vs evil/Heaven and Hell thing, and aside from some lowbrow humor, the writing was excellent. I think a lot of urban fantasy readers will like this book—it really was a case of, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Jessica Signature

One StarOne Star

My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.


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38 responses to “Review: Black Dog by Caitlin Kittredge

  1. I am the biggest Supernatural fan but stopped watching in Season 9, I feel like I need to catch up again because Seasons 1-5 are still my favourite of all time, but I kind of don’t want to you know? How interesting this one is from the perspective of a Hellhound, it sounds like a really interesting concept done well but too bad about the annoying character. Great review Jessica!
    Jeann recently posted…Movie & Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

    • I keep wanting to go back too. I’ve heard that once the guys keep Hell from taking over Earth they go back to monster hunting, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. And this book really did have an interesting premise, but yeah, Ava ruined it for me. Oh well . . . 😉 Thanks, Jeann!

  2. Absolutely PERFECT review, girlie!!! I loved that you told me everything you didn’t like about the story and why, personally, it didn’t work for you. You spelled it out so well, I totally get your point of view!!! Some people say, “I didn’t connect with the heroine” and leave it at that. I hate that!!! Tell me why!!!!! And you did 🙂

    I think I might like this still because I, too, always love demons, I don’t mind when angels get involved. The dead I can take or leave. Necromancy is fine, I just don’t like the dead thinking for themselves 🙂

    I still need to read this so I’ll have to judge for myself… 😀
    Kristin recently posted…Sunday Post #49: Why Read This When I Have Giveaways Going On?

    • Thanks, Kristin! I like knowing why something doesn’t work for someone else too. And yeah, I wouldn’t tell anyone to automatically pass on this one, b/c I think lots of readers will like Ava just fine. AND the dead do not think for themselves in this book, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem for you 😉

  3. I was still interested until I got to the part about going with both guys to sacrifice a pure soul – then I could see what you meant about not liking Ava.

    I might still give it a try at some point but maybe later rather than sooner.

    Great review!

  4. I hadn’t heard of this book, but the description sounds awesome! The main character can so make or break a novel for me too and Ava sounds pretty stupid. I don’t like a heroine who cries and feels sorry for herself either. It might not be the book’s fault that you didn’t like it, but I don’t think I would either. I’m with you on zombies and angels. *raises hand* I love supernatural.
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Top 10 most read authors!

    • The main character IS the book as far as I’m concerned. Character-driven reader<------that's me. But just b/c I don't like Ava, doesn't mean everyone won't. All I can do is explain my reasons (and yeah, whiny heroines are the WORST). The rest is up to you guys 😉 PS---I love supernatural too.

  5. Okay so I have to confess that this one wasn’t on my radar at all until now but you’ve got my interest piqued! I don’t mind angels and demons getting thrown in together and I actually want to see how the author handles it plus while I know you couldn’t connect with the heroine and had lots of issues with her ..YOU EXPLAINED YOUR ISSUES…so I feel like now I can better connect with her? Maybe? Does that make sense? LOL. Lovely review Jessica!
    Lily recently posted…Kiss the Sky (Calloway Sisters #1 OR Addicted #2.1):Review

    • Thanks, Lily! And that’s what I was trying to do. I know that lots of people will like this book, so I just wanted to make the reasons it didn’t work for me very clear. If you think you’d be fine with those things, then it’s probably a safe bet 😉

  6. oh my… to say she made poor choices is putting lightly. really i think i would love to shake her but seems like she would just wait until i finish without trying to understand why…
    not my kind of heroine so i will pass this book ( i discovered i’m no fan of zombie either so^^ one more reason)

    thank you for the complete and so honest review
    miki recently posted…Captured (Fallen Siren 0.5) by SJ Harper

  7. I have read Caitlin Kittredge in the past and really enjoyed her books, but didn’t realize she had a new series coming out. You did a great job with the review, but I am a little confused about 1 thing… The blurb says she has been a Hellhound for 100 years. Your review focuses on what led up to her becoming a Hellhound. Does the story start with her background and flash forward? Is it present day with flashbacks? Because if the character starts as an idiot, but learns from it, I can work with that. It’s the continued idiocy that grates on my nerves no end.
    Judy recently posted…Review: Good Guys Wear Black by Lizbeth Selvig

    • It starts in the present and then flashes back. I was more bothered by her crybaby antics than her stupidity, but her stupidity definitely carries into the present—the guy she’s hot for captures and tortures her for info, etc. I can handle characters who learn from their mistakes too, but with Ava, she barely acknowledges that they are, in fact, mistakes. It’s just kind of taken as a given that men beat up on women.

  8. I’m sorry you didn’t care for the main character (she does sound a bit unlikable), but I’m glad to hear the writing was good and the plot was interesting. Wonderful, hilarious review as always!

    ~ Mckenzie & Michele

  9. It certainly does not sound like my kind of heroine either Jessica. A whiner. I haven’t read anything by this author yet, but her books are on my shelves. I will try one of her other series first.
    I am having the hardest time reading a chapter a week in Bitten, as I don’t like any of the characters.
    aurian recently posted…Susannah Sandlin – Lovely, Dark and Deep

  10. I’m trying to catch up on Supernatural (currently on season 6) but it’s been so difficult… it just seems to drag on :/ However OH GOD this book sounds amazing. I’m always on the lookout for new Urban Fantasy series (as most UF series are at like 10 books and I don’t have time for that, lol) so I reaaalllyyyyy need to read this one. Not to mention the fact that it’s about hellhounds. That sounds amazing. Despite your 3 star review I still really want to read it. Great review, Jessica!
    Marianne recently posted…{Blog Tour} Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer

  11. As soon as I read hellhounds, my first thought was sounds like Supernatural. lol Hellhounds are scary, no they are beyond scary. Rip your throat out scary. Sounds like the heroine is one of those you either like her or hate her types.
    Mary Kirkland recently posted…Happy Raturday!

  12. I’ve read this one last month and I liked it but I also had a problem. Not the heroine but the fast pace. Too many things happen and at the end it’s a little too much. In any case for me. But well in a whole I liked it.

  13. FINALLY someone I can talk to about this!! I liked Black Dog a little bit more than you did, but I had some major problems with it (all in the last section of the book). Did you find the sex scene to be very weirdly placed? Oh hello, literal end of days upon us, let’s have a quick fumbling encounter right outside the home of a crazy lady. UGH. And then the whole descent into Hell was friggin’ weird as all get out. That ending was a mess. I have hope for the future of the series though! And hey, maybe Ava will be more likeable now that she’s got a purpose.
    Danya recently posted…ARC Review: Black Dog by Caitlin Kittredge