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Never Knew Another

(Dogsland #1)

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3.49  ·  Rating details ·  453 ratings  ·  77 reviews
J. M. McDermott delivers the stunning new novel, Never Knew Another — a sweeping fantasy that revels in the small details of life.

Fugitive Rachel Nolander is a newcomer to the city of Dogsland, where the rich throw parties and the poor just do whatever they can to scrape by. Supported by her brother Djoss, she hides out in their squalid apartment, living in fear that somed
...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Night Shade (first published January 16th 2011)
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Average rating 3.49  · 
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Laura Lulu
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
I had a really hard time with this one. I wanted to like it, I've been looking forward to reading it, and I loved the cover, but it just didn't measure up for me.

First of all, the blurb is pretty misleading. It leads you to believe that you'll be reading about the demon children, and I guess you are, but in a roundabout, convoluted way--it's written in 1st person from the POV of a shapeshifting demon hunter, who has all the personality of a macadamia nut. It is all "must kill all demon children.
...more
Ryan
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it
The Good:
An ambitious, gritty urban fantasy/crime/noir/family drama. While ambition isn’t of itself a good quality, it was interesting seeing all this thrown together. It was a good effort. The setting was very atmospheric, and the story intriguing. The characters were dark, complex and sympathetic. They were well done.

The Bad:
This was so shades-of-grey that there was barely a genuine antagonist. The claustrophobic atmosphere, while effective, doesn’t really work in a fantasy setting. Not for me
...more
Bastard
Mar 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Quick reaction: http://bastardbooks.blogspot.com/2012...

Well, this was a unique one. Really hard to put into words what I feel about it, but at the end of it I really loved it. Beautiful prose that contrasted the ugly world it depicted. It's a very short novel, yet quite packed. The story itself is not that complex, but the storytelling technique is. It's easy to get confused since POVs are not always easily identifiable, but that's part of the charm. Part of the story is experienced through a c
...more
Shauna
Feb 10, 2012 added it
Recommends it for: people who like ethical questions in their fiction
I usually don’t summarize the books I review because a reader can find a summary on the inside cover flap, on the back cover, or in listings at Goodreads and online bookstores. However, this book requires a summary because the one give in those places is wrong.

This is not a book about Rachel Nolander. She appears only as a minor character in the backstory and mostly through second-hand memories. The book instead is about a couple, part human, part wolf, who track and kill people who, through no
...more
Courtney Schafer
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Never Knew Another is a haunting little gem of a book, the kind that lingers in your head long after you’ve turned the last page. It reminded me of Gene Wolfe’s novels: while reading, I had that same sense of deep truths hidden between interlocking tales, where words left unspoken hold equal weight to those on the page. The framing story for the novel follows a married pair of shapechanging hunters, whose sacred mission is to seek out and kill the halfbreed children of demons, and cleanse the ta ...more
Ranting Dragon
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stephan
http://www.rantingdragon.com/never-kn...


“My husband and I arrived in a city that I shall call not Woodsland, but, rather, Dogsland. That is the name for human places in the language of the wolf packs.”

Dogsland is the setting for J. M. McDermott’s Never Knew Another, the first book in the Dogsland Trilogy. In this novel, we follow two of Erin’s Walkers – half wolf, half human, all demon hunter. When they find the skull of a half demon child, they leave their woods to explore the city, following t
...more
Yune
Nov 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Love the title, love the cover, love the opening:
My husband and I placed the head from the body we had found upon a rock face at the top of a hill, where the sun and moon would always fall upon it. He had worn the uniform of a king's man in life, but he had demon in his bloodline, and he had stained the earth where he had fallen. My husband and I prayed there, with the head on the stone, to the goddess Erin, and raised our eyes to the sky, to her. We fasted and fasted all day. We drank only wate
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Beth Roberts
When I walked into the library, I was only going to return a book, not get another. You know the story. But it would make no sense to drive all that way and just not take a quick peek. That's how this book came to me. It was propped on a shelf between insipid romances and ignorable high fantasy I don't understand. I looked at it, glanced away, looked back. Thought "What the heck is up with that cover?!" I mean, seriously gorgeous, right?! A badass chick in a wolf skin clutching a skull in a fiel ...more
Alex
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This is a Joe McDermott book so it's hardly going to be anything other than 5 star awesomeness is it? If you've not ready any yet, why not? - you only live once and you don't want to die before experiencing one of the greatest voices in modern fantasy fiction.

As for reviewing Never Knew Another, it became clear to me towards the end that this is more of a first chapter than a self-contained novel and that the reason I was struggling to get a handle on what I'd been reading was that it was far fr
...more
Chernz
Nov 09, 2017 rated it liked it
It's funny - I was a third of the way through when I said, "This reminds me a lot of The Last Dragon," and another third of the way before I connected the dots and realized McDermott wrote them both. It's been ages since I read The Last Dragon but I remember enjoying it a lot more than I enjoyed Never Knew Another, even though both are grim and surreal at times, with prose that flows around you like a fever-dream.
Part of the appeal of The Last Dragon was trying to piece together the chronology
...more
Jesse Bullington
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have a weakness for badasses wearing animal skins as hoods. This weakness has led me down many paths, most of them utterly terrible, and yet still I follow the siren song of the badass-with-an-animal-skin-hood...and now, at last, I have found my reward. Yet rest assured--even if you don't give half a puma pelt for the cover art and the promise therein of a badass wearing a wolfskin, this book will rock your socks.

The beautiful writing and perfectly realized characters combine to create a heady
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Robert
Mar 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Disclaimer-If you read the review and feel there is a spoiler in it, please let me know and I will remove that section. Also, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Thank you.

Never Knew Another is the second book by author J.M. McDermott and the first book in the Dogsland trilogy. His first book is called Last Dragon.

Never Knew Another is about a pair of hunters who are trying to rid the world of demon born and the main plot focuses more on the back story of the life of the few demon
...more
Efseine
Aug 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
Ambitious, but flawed and ultimately unsatisfying.

McDermott has created a compelling and original world rife with conflict, some of which he mines in this book; I'm of the opinion that he could have written one long book rather than a trilogy, considering how short this volume was and how void of anything resembling a solid conclusion. The narrative arc just stops, at an almost arbitrary moment it feels like. I honestly don't know why he separated this into three books, but perhaps the next two
...more
Karen
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011-books
J.M. McDermott’s tale, Never Knew Another was both engrossing and frustrating. But I think my frustrations stem from the fact that this book is only Part One in the Dogsland Trilogy.

The tale follows two Walkers (People who can turn into wolves and are servants of the Goddess Erin), whose job it is to find Demon Children and erase their stain on humanity. The books open with the husband and wife Walkers discovering the corpse of a Demon Child. Through her connection to the Goddess Erin, the fema
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Sarah
Jan 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
When you receive a book that is a gift or a prize you never know if you are going to enjoy it or not. Book prizes are often surprising. It is kind of like putting your hand into a bag that you can’t see into. You never know what you are going to pull out.

I won “Never Knew Another” on a little Twitter contest J.M. McDermott posted. When it arrived, I marveled at the wonderful artwork on the cover by Julien Alday. The very subtle use of colors gives you an indication that this is not just another
...more
Louise
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Completing this book is like coming up from a dream. The layered storytelling is done really well here. What you see on the cover with the person in a wolfskin is the outer layer of the story. It's hard to describe the book without giving too much away. I guess I could say it's about demons and demon children and the sense of isolation they feel from the rest of society.

The world is so rich that even though I was fully invested in some of the character (Rachel and Djoss, for example), I still fe
...more
A.E. Marling
This book is a hallucination caused by snorting demon blood. You think I'm joking? Well, maybe about the snorting part, but it's a frame story from the perspective of two wolfish demon hunters who experience the life of a demon through his bones in order to track down the taint of his blood and sweat. The novel is written in a surreal style, more a piece of modern art than a plot. The content of that blood-and-mud painting surprised me.

Never Knew Another depicts the other, the persecuted demons
...more
Jefferson
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
"These things happened in cities"

The narrator of J. M. McDermott's Never Knew Another (2011) and her husband are Walkers of the goddess Erin, healer-hunter-exorcist-executioner priests who don wolf skins to become super wolves to search out and purify the demon taint of Elishta. At the start of the novel the wife recounts finding the toxic corpse of a demon child dressed in the uniform of a king's man, removing the head to access the mind adhering to the skull. The first thing she heard was the
...more
Jennybeast
Nov 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
Well, it sounded very promising but unfortunately is the sort of stream of consciousness that falls in the verbal diarrhea category. Ok, fine, you want to write a book with shifting points of view that results from minds melding. Ok, it's supposed to be about memory, and sifting through another's memory to find clues. All of those are really interesting things, and the world is an interesting world and yet. I kept wondering when the story would start. I kept waiting for something interesting to ...more
Gregory Evans
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book left me filled with emotional attachment for the characters. I can only remember feeling this attached to a character (or characters) in a novel twice before, with A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis.

Refreshing and different from normal fantasy, if you are a lover of fantasy, you will love this. If you are a lover of fiction but not a regular fantasy reader, I suggest this book even more to you, it is a good example of how great the genre can be wh
...more
Goblin
Apr 17, 2012 rated it liked it
I don't have much to say. I enjoyed this book but I did not find myself in love with it. Just me though and I would recommend the book to others if it were in line with their interests.
Nick Alimonos
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
With a title like Never Knew Another, I imagined life deep in the woods, far from other human beings. It’s amazing what another writer can imagine when looking at a book cover—and how different the actual story turns out to be. Never Knew Another by J.M. McDermott reads like a noir crime thriller set in inner city Chicago. But this is fantasy, so the plot revolves around people born of demon parentage. With some effort, demon kin can pass for human, which reminded me of the many Twilight knockof ...more
Megan Angel
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent fantasy book and I look forward to reading the rest of the series when I can. There’s such a depth of world building and yet it never once felt like a word dump. The characters are realistic, despite the supernatural elements to almost all of the main characters. Only once or twice did I stumble with the transitions (the book swaps between perspectives of Jona, Rachel, and the female walker, a type of werewolf/shapeshifter). But otherwise, it was such a seamless switch that I often ...more
Jess
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
(Review originally posted on my blog)

The blurb does not do justice to the compelling and skilfully woven tale that lies between the book’s covers. Whilst Never Knew Another is indeed about the meeting of Jona and Rachel, that is only one facet to its intricate narrative – a narrative that surpasses much of the ‘traditional’ fantasy genre in its emotional depth, stylistic and structural crafting, and understated elegance. In that regard, I would say that the book’s cover is a better indication of
...more
Zivan
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Mcdermott's fantasy engages the usual tropes from a different angle, concentrating first on the characters and then on the world. Giving his works depth while keeping the world mysterious and hinting at a complex history.

For a relatively short book it did sometimes feel like it could have been a bit shorter though.

Note that this is definitely a first book in a trilogy and has a clear, to be continued ending.
Christine Powell
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: out-from-library
I have not, will not finish this book. I am not sure what I was expecting, but zealot demon hunters with an underpinning of mythology wasn't it. The writing is technically good, a shame about the story or characters...
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[quote]

Fugitive Rachel Nolander is a newcomer to the city of Dogsland, where the rich throw parties and the poor just do whatever they can to scrape by. Supported by her brother Djoss, she hides out in their squalid apartment, living in fear that someday, someone will find out that she is the child of a demon. Corporal Jona Lord Joni is a demon's child too, but instead of living in fear, he keeps his secret and goes about his life as a cocky, self-as
...more
David H.
Sep 08, 2019 marked it as abandoned
Why I didn't finish this: There was something about the writing and the premise that just turned me off, and I tried twice.
Mark Sheinbaum
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Not bad fantasy. Seemed kind of drawn out and slow paced. Not really my style.
Karen
May 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: specfic, 2012
This is a strange, interesting, uneven book. McDermott's prose is lovely in places, and he writes with assurance. His fantastic world is several angles off from our own, and he pulls us into it without laborious explanations or coddling.

We open in first person, in the voice of a woman/wolf who's hunting, together with her husband, the trail of a dead demon-child. In other words, a man of demonic ancestry has been killed and they're following up to find who killed him, and to purify anything and
...more
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Romance Lovers fo...: The Dogsland Trilogy by J.M. McDermott 1 11 Oct 27, 2011 02:17PM  

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His first novel was plucked from a slush pile and went on to be #6 on Amazon.com's Year's Best SF/F of 2008, shortlisted for a Crawford Prize, and on Locus Magazine's Recommended Reading List for Debuts. His short fiction has appeared in Weird Tales Magazine, Fantasy Magazine, Apex Magazine, and Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, among other places. He has a BA in Creative Writing from the Univers ...more

Other books in the series

Dogsland (3 books)
  • When We Were Executioners (Dogsland, #2)
  • We Leave Together (Dogsland #3)

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