Review: Dogs and Goddesses by Jennifer Crusie, Anne Stuart, and Lani Diane Rich

dogs and goddesses1 Review: Dogs and Goddesses by Jennifer Crusie, Anne Stuart, and Lani Diane Rich

Well, hot on the heels of the last Little Black Dress book review, heres another. My only excuse is that Im a sucker for vibrant covers and the use of photoshop brushes (why yes, I do have another LBD book sitting on my shelf purchased for exactly the same reasons. Shameful, I know).

Dogs and Goddesses initially took me a moment to get my head around. Given the three different authors and a blurb that seemed to refer to three separate although vaguely intertwined stories, I was expecting to sit down to a series of novellas. Instead, Dogs and Goddesses is in fact a novel with multiple co-authors. This is a fact thats unfortunately evident almost straight away, as the book struggles in trying to cohere the different authorial voice and characters into a workable narrative.

Dogs and Goddesses is the story of three women who meet when they attend a dog training class. Of course, this class turns out to be something quite different from a normal dog training class: rather it seems that its some weird meeting place for a risen goddess determined to reclaim what she considers her rightful place in the world, with the help, it seems, of a few minions. These minions being, among a couple of other unfortunate souls, the three main characters of the book. However, the three women in question have little intention of serving this goddess, ditching her instead for a few spunky men and a cafe.

The strange goddess uprising plot (unfortunately the main plot arc) is definitely the weakest component of the book, and to be honest I feel as though the book would have been much stronger had the authors gone in an entirely different direction. The book is at its best when its set in the mysterious cafe where the women are able to unleash their own goddess attributes, baking lust cookies and generally having fun. This plot element reminded me somewhat of Sarah Addison Allens Garden Spells, and I would happily have spent more time getting acquainted with the quirky cafe rather than being dragged about as the academically deficient characters try to solve what barely counts as a mystery.

None of the romances, Im afraid, really worked for me, either, with two of them feeling forced, and the other making the unremitting feminist in me feel just a touch disgruntled. In addition to the clunky plotting (would a woman take her perfectly behaved dog to dog training classes because she simply happened upon a leaflet? And why is a seemingly powerful goddess so easily able to be ignored?), poor characterisation that led to the various characters feeling completely interchangeable, and the uncomfortably woeful romances, there were also talking dogs. Talking dogs whose speech was rendered in an awful sans-serif font. A font that was not rendered uniformly throughout the book. And typos. Typos galore!

Dogs and Goddesses, Im afraid, is not an especially strong book, and I expected something a lot stronger from a title co-authored by well-known author Jennifer Crusie. Books written by committee are certainly a challenge, but Dogs and Goddesses would have benefited from a clearer conceptualisation of plot and theme, which would have led to stronger characterisation and a more balanced approach.

 Review: Dogs and Goddesses by Jennifer Crusie, Anne Stuart, and Lani Diane Rich

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Forthcoming reviews: The Wild Reel by Paul Brandon (fantasy); Murder on Ice by Alina Adams (mystery)

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