Balfour and Meriwether in The Incident of the Harrowmoor Dogs

It's no secret that Daniel Abraham is a very versatile writer whose imagination knows no bounds. Hence, when the ARC for Balfour and Meriwether in the Incident of the Harrowmoor Dogs showed up in a Subpress package, the premise immediately intrigued me. And since it was something brand new and a work of short fiction to boot, I decided to give it a shot.

Here's the blurb:

When a private envoy of the queen and member of Lord Carmichael's discreet service goes missing, Balfour and Meriwether are asked to look into the affair. They will find a labyrinth of dreams, horrors risen from hell, prophecy, sexual perversion, and an abandoned farmhouse on the moors outside Harrowmoor Sanitarium. The earth itself will bare its secrets and the Empire itself will tremble in the face of the hidden dangers they discover, but the greatest peril is the one they have brought with them.

Balfour and Meriwether in the Incident of the Harrowmoor Dogs is the first novella length work in the Balfour and Meriwether stories by Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominated author Daniel Abraham.

The story takes place in late 1800s England and I feel that Abraham's eye for historical details captured the minutiae of that era well. This is the first in a number of novellas which will likely occur over a period of thirty years or so, as the Last Notebook of Mr. Meriwether dates from 1920. It remains to be seen whether or not these tales will go beyond the boundaries of the UK. But insofar as this novella is concerned, the protagonists have piqued my curiosity and I'm looking forward to more stories chronicling their adventures/misadventures.

The tone of this novella is decidedly more witty and cynical than what the author has accustomed us to in the past. And as such, it showed a different side of Abraham, one that I truly enjoyed.

In terms of characterization, Balfour and Meriwether are a disparate, quirky, and interesting pair. These strange agents of the Queen are endearing protagonists. And although the novella-length project doesn't allow readers to really get to know them, one really wants to discover more about them. Here's to hoping that future installments won't be too long in coming. . .

I loved how the religious perception of homosexuality as an abomination was deftly woven into the storyline. It definitely adds another layer to the tale and it bodes well for things to come. Whether you are a fan of the author, or whether you have never read anything by Daniel Abraham, Balfour and Meriwether in the Incident of the Harrowmoor Dogs makes for a short but satisfying read!

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe, and Subpress

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