Mystery for the Horror Fan -- Cozy Gothic Noir Joe Bonadonna's Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser is a great mashup of Horror/Fantasy/Film Noir. In Television terms, this would appeal to fans of the X-files, Supernatural, or Grim. Being a collection of tales, each serves as an episode. Expect: necromancy, mythogical creatures -- especially the hybrid horned creatures (satyrs, minotaur, etc.), pitted against our protagonist who is motivated to set things right (and make enough money to eat…and perhaps a sustained glance at a beautiful woman).
Gothic Noir: With the exception of one tale, Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser proved to be more “Crime & Sorcery” than “Sword & Sorcery.” Dorgo is not an official constable or justice keeper, but he is hired layman with investigative skills and a magical dowsing rod which he uses on occasion -- much less than expected given his name “Dorgo the Dowser.” Bonadonna brands his Dorgo tales “Gothic Noir,” which is fitting. Despite the weirdness of Valdar city and the threatening necromancy that abounds, we know Dorgo will survive and resolve any case as surely as Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser did. Speaking of Leiber, Bonadonna call’s out Leiber as an influence; Bonadonna's style is unique but he delivers the same entertaining blend of weird adventure dosed with humor.
Episodes: All are stand alone reads, except for the last one (“Blood on the Moon”) which leans toward being a sequel to the “Black Diamond.” Without spoiling, the first four are set in Valdar, and the final two explore some “old” territory…and we learn a bit about Dorgo’s past.
2-The Secret Of Andaro’s Daughter
4-The Man Who Loved Puppets
5-In The Vale Of The Black Diamond
6-Blood On The Moon (an extension of #5)
Orphan/Parent-Offspring Themes: The haunting dedication sets the stage for the themes of many of these stories: the dedication was extended to his parents and to “Mary Ellen Pettenon and the other 91 children and 3 nuns who became angles too soon in the Our Lady of Angels School Fire, December 1, 1958.” I learned on Facebook that Bonadonna is a long time Chicagoan, who was in the same school system and if his birthday was a few months different, he would have been in the building. In the book, we learn early on that Dorgo is an orphan, and many of the plots/character-motivations are based on family ties.
Echoes: Bonadonna’s Book of Echoes contribution to Azieran Adventures Presents Artifacts and Relics: Extreme Sorcery was so good I tracked this collection down, and enjoyed this. I suggest you track more Dorgo/Bonadonna down too: