Dog Days (Dog Days #1) by John Levitt

Dog Days (A Dog Days Novel) - John Levitt

Mason makes a living filling in with different bands as a jazz guitarist in San Fransisco.  With his dog which is quite a dog Leo by his side, life has settled into a comfortable routine.  Sure he could be doing more with his magic and even more with his career but at the end of the day Mason is just too damn lazy to put in the effort.  To play jazz, one has to be able to improvise and instead of learning the real fundamentals of magic and honing his skills, Mason simply improvises - that is until he meets someone runs afoul of a fellow practitioner who has decided to gain power at all costs.

Dog Days is a pretty steady novel but for an introduction to a series, it was really lacking in giving us a good feel for the world. We learn that each practitioner is born with varying degrees of magic and some of them are lucky enough to get a familiar (read ifrit) as a companion. We know that they have a series of governing bodies and that they use a check and balance system to ensure that they don't end up with a practitioner that is overly strong.  That's essentially it for the world building.  It's beyond basic.

Even the plot line is very basic.  There are no real twists and turns to the story and I feel as though that really made the antagonists decision to go after the less than earnest Mason underwhelming at best.  I just didn't buy his motivation.  In the end, it all came down to Christoph wanting Mason's ifrit and that he simply didn't like Mason.  We are told almost in passing that Leo is special but it is never really explained how or why.  In fact, though the ifrit are everywhere in this story we don't know anything about them beyond the fact that each has some kind of special power and is bonded to a particular practitioner.  Yep, that's a pretty massive plot hole. 

Levitt made a real effort to be inclusive with Dog Days; however, all the marginalized characters read like cardboard cut outs.  The two women characters are interchangeable love interests and victims. Naturally, being women, their special powers involve healing and you guessed it empathy.  I wonder if their power comes oozing out of their ovaries? There was never any doubt that one of them was going to die but Levitt double downed and dumped the other into the plot box for later in a manner which made absolutely no sense.  If someone had tried to kill you on several occasions, murdered someone you cared about before your very eyes, as well as attempted to murder a beloved pet and you respond by taking their life in self defense that doesn't make you a killer.  The idea that Mason is now suddenly a killer and an unfit match for a healer is ridiculous.

The major GLBT character in this story is Victor who is a powerful practitioner, super wealthy, head of the enforcers and of course has an impeccable eye for fashion and all things classical.  Victor apparently goes through men on a rotating monthly basis but has finally found love with Danny. If Levitt had not included a GLBT character while setting his story in San Francisco of all places I certainly would have been rolling my eyes; however, at times, Victor feels like another card board cut out, particularly because he is described as "Prissy. Bitchy. The perfect gay neighbour on a bad sitcom."



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