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A Feral Darkness

A Feral Darkness

4.3 77
by Doranna Durgin

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"The mystery and fantasy slowly draw together, bonded by supreme characterization, to make for a story which is almost impossible to put down."
--Reviewers Bookwatch

As a child, dog-loving Brenna Fallon naívely invokes an ancient Celtic deity to save her beloved hound--and inadvertently anchors the new-found power at a spring on her family's


"The mystery and fantasy slowly draw together, bonded by supreme characterization, to make for a story which is almost impossible to put down."
--Reviewers Bookwatch

As a child, dog-loving Brenna Fallon naívely invokes an ancient Celtic deity to save her beloved hound--and inadvertently anchors the new-found power at a spring on her family's farm.

She doesn't know she's also left an opening for a far more malevolent force.

Years later, thanks to the actions of several angry young men, Brenna discovers the terrible potential of that gateway. With a devastating plague unfolding abruptly around her, she must depend on her wits, a stranger she doesn't trust, and a mysterious stray dog who becomes more than just a faithful companion as she struggles to drive back the threat of a modern Black Death.

Welded by a desperate sacrifice, woman, man, and dog face the feral darkness together.

"If you are looking for a book that has paranormal elements and some romance, is expertly written with wonderful characters and has a smooth pace that leads up to a climatic finish, A FERAL DARKNESS is the book for you and it is not to be missed."
--The Romance Reader's Connection

"This is a very smart, well-woven book, with an initially cranky but ultimately endearing hero and a thoroughly satisfying ending."
--Mary Jo Putney, bestselling author of the The Rake

Editorial Reviews

Brenna's life is one of dull predictability. She does her job as a groomer well enough to be in demand by some regular customers. When her workday has ended, Brenna heads home to her beloved dog, Sunny. When a stray Corgi shows up at her back door, Brenna searches for its owner without success. The dog, named Druid according to its tag, seems to have appeared from out of nowhere. Druid lapses into uncontrolled fits of fearful frenzy, a behavior that puzzles Brenna at first. As she begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together, Brenna also comes to fear the terror that grips the Corgi. For Brenna, the terror is very real, an outbreak of a virulent form of rabies that claims both animal and human victims. Although the story seems to drag at the outset, the sudden attacks by a pack of feral dogs, the mysterious occurrences at Brenna's sacred spring, and the presence of a handsome stranger all connect to make this book an unusual story of survival. Brenna is a likeable heroine;however, she seems to need rescuing by the tall, dark stranger perhaps once too often. The cover suggests that she is more of a pin-up girl than a brave woman fighting for her beloved pet's life. In addition, the references to Celtic deities might be a little too obtuse for some readers. Perhaps those fans of Welsh fantasists such as LeGuin and Alexander will find this book an interesting departure. VOYA CODES:2Q 2P S A/YA (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q;For the YA with a special interest in the subject;Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12;Adult and Young Adult). 2001, Baen, 343p, $6.99 pb. Ages 15 to Adult. Reviewer:Teri S. Lesesne—VOYA, December 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 5)

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Read an Excerpt

A Feral Darkness

By Doranna Durgin

Baen Books

ISBN: 0-671-31994-9

Chapter One



Forgotten gods fill the layers of heaven. Quiescent, subordinate, long ago superceded. Waiting. And every so often, reminded of their own existence.

* * *

Nineteen Years Before Now

She is nine years old, with tears streaming down her face and the intermittent hiccough of a sob jerking her chest. Dressed in the ragged cut-offs and worn T-shirt that have been the choice of a generation of children, she does not wait to hear the rest of her mother's words. She races out of the house, the screen door banging hollowly in her wake, and runs across the soft spring grass of the yard to duck between the first and second strands of the electric fence, feeling the swift zing of electricity run above and below her.

The old hound follows at his leisure, but follow he does, as stubborn in this as ever in following a trail-even though it takes him a moment to rise and his movement is stiff when he does. His tail waves in gentle arcs as he detours to slip between gate and post rather than duck the fence wire. The day is barely warm enough for the shorts that hang on the girl's lanky frame, but he is already panting.

She stops to wait for him. Of course. And one hand slips inside her back pocket to feel the stiff folded square of paper only recently purloined from her father's magazine. On it is a photo of a sculpture, a simplistically elegant hound-not a treeing hound like her lifelong companion, but a gaze hound, couchant, with a long neck and pointed nose, and a gaze hound's insignificant ears.

He catches up with her, pleased with himself, and lifts his head to look up at her with a hound smile through his panting. Unlike the statue, his ears are long and heavy and the softest things she ever has or ever will feel. But she doesn't care about the differences between her companion and the Lydney Hound. She's not particularly concerned about all the details in the accompanying article that are beyond her ability to digest-cold anthropological facts that even her father doesn't read. She's seen him turning the pages with dirt-encrusted fingers, skipping from one bright glossy photo to another and getting glimpses of places that don't yet pull her own attention away from this small farm. That's all he wants, the glimpses, and when he's had enough he puts the magazine beside his lounge chair and ambles off to see if he can fix whatever mechanical thing has gone wrong now.

This is how she finds the Lydney Hound, and-later, sneaking the magazine into her bedroom-reads about the oddly named god called Mars Nodens who favors hounds, who likes dogs of all sorts. Who has an ancient shrine from olden days so olden she can't even begin to imagine the scope of it and again ... doesn't care.

What she cares about is that his shrine was a healing shrine. That he favors dogs, that the shrine, even after all this time, is littered with representations of them. And that the right-side pasture has some of the other things she's been able to make sense of in that article-the wide, cold creek that runs deep in all but the driest months, a hill rising on one side of it to hold not only the area's biggest oak, but a tiny spring as well. The tiniest of springs, really, a damp spot that the ground downhill reabsorbs practically before the water has a chance to join the creek, but a spring nonetheless.

She wonders briefly if her own God, her assigned God, will thunderously disapprove of her intent.

But then, He's had His chance, hasn't He? Hasn't she said her prayers to Him, over and over? And did it stop her mother from saying those words about her cherished old hound, only moments ago? Or her brother from making fun of the dog's aged movement?

She smears the drying tears from her cheeks and runs her hand down the dog's soft ear. Maybe Mars Nodens will listen. He is not likely to have heard a more heartfelt prayer-now or then.

* * *

Four Years Before Now

They come in the middle of the night, breaking fences in a final night of tearing up pastures with the knobby tires on their growling ATVs. Drunk, getting drunker, they spin doughnuts in the wet spring turf, spitting out chunks of sod in their wake. Picking pastures without stock because they somehow have sense enough to know that damaging or losing stock will take them over the line from wild young men to criminals.

But they are mighty wild.

They pick a spot up against a creek too deep to cross, heeding a darkened house in the distance. A young woman lives there, they know, but has been gone this summer, working several jobs as if the extra income will somehow be enough to keep her father alive. She is an odd girl with amazingly long hair, the one who has an uncanny way with dogs and an unsettling way of looking through a man as though he's not even there and it wouldn't matter if he were. But she is not home, and her pastures belong to them.

They settle in for a time to swallow the beer they've brought, shaking the cans, popping the tops to soak themselves and the hillside beneath the spreading oak. They don't notice that they trample the grave markings of the old hound who lived longer than anyone had ever thought possible. They don't notice the sudden stillness of the night around them, or that even as they drink, they often glance over their shoulders, looking for that which they feel but cannot see.

Not a benign feeling, for in this place of power they have not thought to call upon things benign. Instead they call upon aggression, building the strength and ego of the one who will shortly present himself for army basic training. They call upon braggadocio, chest-thumping stories of prowess, and dark promises of manly revenge for those who have recently wronged them. They spill beer from can and bladder, and when they find the struggling remains of a rabbit they roared over in their ATV frenzy, they spill blood.

And then they go home, leaving the debris of the night behind them and never suspecting what they have awakened.

At least, not right away.

* * *


It begins. (Continues...)

Excerpted from A Feral Darkness by Doranna Durgin Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Doranna's quirkiness of spirit has led to an eclectic publishing journey since that her first award-winning novel, spanning genres over nearly 50 novels to include mystery, SF/F, action-romance, paranormal, franchise, and a slew of essays and short stories. Beyond that, mostly she still prefers to hang around outside her New Mexico mountain home with the animals, riding dressage on her Lipizzan and training for performance sports with the dogs. She doesn't believe so much in mastering the beast within, but in channeling its power. For good or bad has yet to be decided... Along with the occasional original, these Smashwords editions are author presentations of favorites once found on bookstore shelves.

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Feral Darkness 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 77 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brenna Fallon is a very good pet groomer in a small New York town. When rumors of a savage pack of feral dogs surface, her unusual rapport with the animals is hardly enough--because the pack appears supernatural. And malevolent. This book has a conventional plot, but very well drawn characters, pleasant style, and evocative portrayals of pets and nature. The fantasy has suspence, magic, romance and crime, all blended into an anjoyable novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've always been impressed with Durgin's characters, especially her animals, but Feral Darkness is especially wonderful. I've lived with dogs, and will remember Druid and Sunny long after I put the book down. The pacing of this story kept me up long past midnight. Highly recommended.
KarenJG More than 1 year ago
I had to buy this used years ago, because it's been out of print for so long. I'm THRILLED to see it newly available to readers. This is one of my favorite Durgin books - and that's saying a lot, because I like all of her books. Why? because she always seems to produce a book with a perfect (for me) blend of well-rounded, fully "backgrounded" characters I really like, and action that keeps the story moving. It's not actually that common, because authors who really get into character development often bog down the action with that development, and authors who do great action often skimp on character development. So I love to find authors who do both, and go out of my way (hence the "used" purchase) to buy all of their books. As far as this book... well, others have covered the plot, so I'll just add a few notes: You don't have to be a dog lover to love this book - there's enough "people power" to keep you interested. You don't have to be a fantasy lover to love this book - there's enough grounding in the real world to hold your interest. You don't have to be an action lover to love this book, there's enough background and character development to balance out the mad dashes into (and eventually, out of) trouble. And you don't have to be a romance lover to love this book, because the romance doesn't take center stage, it's just a lovely bit of sidelight to the characters and the events of the rest of the story. One note to the person who felt offended by the pagan aspects of the book... I sort of wonder why you continued reading it, since it was a *successful* appeal to a Celtic deity that sorta started the whole ball rolling. OF COURSE there would be pagan aspects. If the very existence of other religious belief systems offends you, why read about it?
checkmark More than 1 year ago
I loved this story. The female protaganist is strong and takes charge in the story. The ending made me cry but with joy. I highly recommend this story as well worth the price. In fact i just went to the book store and bought another book by this author. The set up for the story is slow but the ending rocked.
soullygrounded More than 1 year ago
I loved the book; I haven't read many from the paranormal thriller, adventure, romance genre, but this book was a page turner. The characters were real and entirely believable. I enjoyed being introduced to the notion of the good vs evil plot that transpired over the course of the story in a totally unexpected way..
Guest More than 1 year ago
Doranna Durgin has hit her stride with this one. A FERAL DARKNESS has wonderful characters and a tightly written story with just the right touch of Mystery in the mundane world. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wasn't sure i like it but I could not put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Magic, mystery, suspense, heartbreak, time manipulation, this book has it all. Five thumbs up!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow. Beyond engrossing. The characters were well rounded and likeable. Very interesting twist on the paranormal. Very few editing errors too. Ill be looking for more by this author! Mad Cricket
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I Love Dogs. This book is written with the dog lover in mind. Just enough suspense to keep it good. The characters were nicely rounded. Would recommend to other readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Good character development. This story had me hooked and kept my intrest throught. I would highly recommend this book. It is about 677 pages. I plan on reafing more by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good character development, I enjoyed this book very much, which considering how much I hate dogs is impressive for a book with so much dog interaction. Plot resolved well, nice little tied up story, easy read.
MoNika24 More than 1 year ago
got this book because of all the great reviews and it was free - it was very slow and tried to force myself to finish. Just could not connect with the characters. very disappointed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Engrossing and expertly written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great, I couldent put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
enjoyed the read! great characters! wonderful ending!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. I enjoyed the main characters and the unique ideas this author presented to create a very compelling story line. I will look for more books from this author! Thanks so much for this free book, B & N!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It had a bit of everything. There was a bit of mystery, romance sci fi, &suspense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is first of all a great read with all the elements of a first class story, but so much more...characters you will like and remember, romance, mystery, terror, and a definite paranormal situation. Dog lovers will find bits of their own furry friends as they learn a bit about their dog groomer's (MAIN CHARACTER) job and THEIR responsibility toward their dog (Found myself guilty here a few times) It is all worked in to a quickly moving story of every day life, dog fighting, and rabies. May even make you take a look at your own religious beliefs. .Hard to put down!!! ?
DaUgh More than 1 year ago
very good story w/mystery & characters. a pleasant read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago