An Oath of Dogs

by Wendy N. Wagner

The story of an anxiety-ridden communications engineer sent to a logging town on another planet (sorry, moon) where she encounters eco-terrorrists, a mennonite-like cult, and corporate cover ups didn’t quite live up to its potential, I thought.

And the problem is, I’m not sure how much of that feeling was influenced by unmarked POV changes that due to formatting issues (Kindle edition) were really tricky to spot. The paragraphs were shoved right up against the prior POV paragraph with very little other than an odd capital letter to mark the change. It meant I often to to stop, go back to find the POV change, and then start rereading again. Very tiresome and happened often when I was JUST hitting my groove either with the voice of the mennonite women in her journal entries or with main character Standish the engineer. I wish we had just stuck with Standish (the other main POV is Pete the company biologist) and the journal entries since they were easy to spot changes (both because the tenor of the voice was entirely different and the italics). Pete wasn’t as interesting to me.

Standish arrives in Canaan Lake just as her boss dies out in the woods alone. She’s sure its a murder, but the local Sheriff, who may or may not be in the pocket of the corporation bankrolling the whole logging town, rules it most likely suicide. Standish starts to investigate and discovers mysterious, unmarked roads, a pack of wild dogs that is targeting the colonists’ dead in the cemeteries no one wants to discuss, and strange behavior on the part of the local fauna.

Huginn is an interesting world. The sciencey bits about the local fungi, flora, and fauna were pleasingly extra-terrestrial. The “magical” bits about the dogs and Olive (young girl who spends most of her time in the woods and whose hair color changes) etc. tantalizingly borderline hallucination vs fantastical.

But some of that gets lost in the corporate logging interests vs ecoterrorists part that somehow has to do with Standish’s friend back in the spaceport city? And then there’s stuff about the Sheriff who seems to switch sides? Anyway, I guess I wanted more about Standish figuring out who she wanted to be and recovering from her trauma and uncovering the secrets of the faux mennonites and less logging stuff. Still, interesting take on extra-terrestrial world.