Dogs and Demons

R J Lee Heroux
Independently Published (2022)
ISBN:  978-1387425204
Reviewed by Terri Stepek for Reader Views (01/2023)

The adventure of “Dogs and Demons” by R J Lee Heroux features a young boy and his two dogs as he discovers a parallel realm where dogs talk and train their “humans” to protect themselves. James and his dogs Loki and Buddy meet four other children, along with their dogs, who have also come to train in Olympus. As the children learn more about this realm and its inhabitants, they come to realize that a crisis is unfolding and they are uniquely qualified to prevent it.

An ensemble on a quest is a great platform on which to build a story. Each of these children possesses a unique personality, viewpoint, and skill. Each will find themselves essential at some point in the journey. They will come to understand more about themselves and their world, both the natural realm and the dream realm. I hesitate to call it a coming-of-age story since the main characters have all just turned 6 years old. But they don’t act, think, or learn like 6-year-olds.

The story is well-paced and full of fun, action, excitement, and wonder. The children not only discover the amazing location known as Olympus, but they also meet a variety of mythical creatures as they travel through grasslands, mountains, rivers, a rainforest, and even the lair of Hades. It’s truly a grand adventure, but one that is full of very real peril, even if they are in the dream realm.

It’s most common for young people’s books to feature characters within the same age range as the target reader. That is not the case with this story, as it is written for teens and young adults. Many of the names in the dream realm are derived from ancient Greek myths, so pronunciation would be difficult for younger children. The concept of the dream realm itself, as well as the lessons taught at Olympus, would likewise be difficult for younger children. But neither should be a problem for the teen/YA audience. As previously mentioned, the main (human) characters may be six years old, but the reader will quickly forget their age as the children learn, explore, fight, and rescue their way to an ultimate showdown with Hades himself.

The book cover is beautiful and compelling. However, I question if it is a cover that would attract teen/YA readers, looking more like it was designed to draw younger readers. This again creates a disconnect between the storyline and the target audience. Teens and young adults who pick this book up will find a great story of epic adventure, as the children discover a sense of purpose and the true characteristics of a hero.

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