John Levitt

Books: Fantasy | Mystery

Dog Days: Dog Days (2007), New Tricks (2008)

Dog Days (2007)

Dog DaysThe only thing that made me pick up Dog Days was the blurb by Rob Thurman. As I love her writing, I decided to take a chance on Dog Days, especially since I was taking advantage of Amazons 4-for-3 deal. So looking for something light and picked it up and was drawn in quite quickly.

Mason used to be a magical enforcer, helping to keep people on the straight and narrow. But his first love was music, and because magic interfered with his music, he put magic on the back burner and concentrated on being a Jazz musician. But Mason's larger problem is that he's lazy. He's a lazy practitioner, and a lazy musician, so he gets by, but in nothing does he come close to his potential. So it makes no sense to him when he's magically attacked, and the incidents that follow make even less sense.

Analysis? Not great, but good.

There were a lot of things about this story that I really liked: People died, and they didn't even necessarily have meaningful deaths. The hero was far from perfect, and those weaknesses caused much of his trouble, and he didn't get off lightly for his laziness. The story went in unexpected directions, and didn't follow the typical fantasy HEA.

But there were some things that bugged me. First and foremost, When we are introduced to two different characters, it's written as if Mason didn't know them. As this this book was written in the first person, this came of as an incredibly annoying conceit. Yes, it allowed those characters to be described as an outsider would see them, but since Mason *knew* this characters, it instead grated on my nerves.

But, one the story started moving I quickly forgot those minor annoyances.

The second annoyance came right at the end. It was in no way a deal breaker, but it really bugged me that a significant detail was simply omitted.


The big thing about the magical duel to the death is that the winner gets all the losers magical power. The book says that the reason Christoph wants to duel Mason is because he's an easy mark (see: lazy) with enough power to push Christoph over the edge. However, after Mason defeats Christoph, a transfer of power from Christoph to Mason is NEVER MENTIONED. As this transfer seemed to have been automatic as described in an earlier duel, this was a HUGE oversight.

I realize this leaves the author open for another book, in having Mason deal with his new power, but just ignoring what was supposed to happen–or worse, leaving it out entirely–really bothered me. It could simply have been mentioned as happening, but we get nothing. So this was a glaring hole in the end of the story.


Which is really too bad, because I easily forgave the initial introductory annoyances. But the final annoyance threw me completely out of the story. Which is really too bad, because it was an otherwise very good book, that went out of it's way to avoid many of the fantasy tropes that tend to get grating after awhile.

Oh, there was boinking in this book. It wasn't badly done, but it was there. Just so you know.

Would I read a sequel or other book by John Levitt? Yes. But I won't go out of my way to look for those books, in case he annoys me again.

Rating: 6/10

ADDENDUM the First
Here's a comment from John Levitt in response to my review:

You're not the first to mention this, so I guess it's my own fault for not explaining it in the book — I just never thought of it, because it was clear to me — not clear obviously to others.

You only get power from a magical duel if you triumph through magical means. There's a reference to this earlier in the book, but it's not emphasized.

And since Mason used no magic to overcome Christoph, but physically succeeded in drowning him, he got no power from it. Just like if Christoph had simply pulled out a knife and stabbed Mason in the back, he wouldn't have got any power from Mason, either.

That actually changes how I feel about the book significantly. It should have been more clear what was happening, but not being a purposeful cliffhanger makes me very happy.

Revised Rating: 7/10

New Tricks (2008)

new_tricksI really wanted to like this book. I enjoyed the first book, and was pleased when John Levitt came by to tell me I had misinterpreted something, which had affected my opinion of the book.

The problem this time was that I knew quite quickly who the bad guy was.


The problem was Mason couldn't see Jo–a small and beautiful female to whom he was attracted–as being the one responsible for the destruction of the other practitioners. Why? Because she was female? Montague specifically stated he didn't know the gender of his visitor. Why assume the villain was male?

The cause of the crime was mental illness due to a brain tumor, and mental illness has no gender.

Mason has had strong women in his life, so I don't see why he and everyone else would be so blind to the idea of Jo being the killer–especially those like Eli who refused to see her brother as the killer.

I think what frustrates me most about this is half my fantasy bookshelves are full of books with strong heroines AND villains. To me, it was so obvious that Jo was the killer, Mason's inability to see this felt like sexism, which just frustrated me to no end, especially when Mason's inability to see this lead to at least two more deaths.


So although I enjoyed the characters and particularly liked the developments regarding the ifrits, I just couldn't stop being annoyed at Mason.