I’m still not exactly used to purchasing and reading anthologies, and therefore not that adept at figuring out the best way to review them -as they are books filled with so many fantastic stories by many authors and it's just hard figuring out where to begin and what to cover. So please bear with me.
Okay, so the subject of this review is a Noir-themed Furry anthology titled "Inhuman Acts" edited by Ocean Tigrox - an excellent Writer/Editor! I have to personally extend a high-five and fist bump towards the editor for the theme behind this anthology and the works of the writers within it! There have been a handful of instances of placing anthropomorphic animals in Noir settings, but I don’t believe that it’s ever been done quite like this nor with so much variety!
So...diving right into it...
The Foreword written by Ocean Tigrox is a 'in-universe' perspective of traditional hard-boiled PI Stanley Rivets informing readers what they’re in for. As everybody knows, the Noir genre is not exactly renowned for happiness and romantic smooching. It's dirty, gritty, foreboding and filled with misery of people just trying to make it through another day of crappy existence on a rock called Earth. There will be no hand-holding to make you feel better when all is said and done.
And you'll have to suffer along with every unfortunate main character and expendable schmuck in all 13 tales of this amazing anthology.
SO. Since I can't exactly give an in-depth review of every single story in Inhuman Acts, allow me to point out some stories that stood out to me - which is going to be difficult in itself.
1. A Blacker Dog by Huskyteer:
Okay, not going to lie, the mythology of the Black Dogs is one of my favorite mythologies. So, the fact that Huskyteer built up an entire world with a story featuring every human being having a Black Dog as an invisible companion pleases me so much. It's very relevant to my interests.
Keep in mind that this particular story is still a Noir story. And while this story features an adorable thinks-he-is-people-in-a-trench-coat Black Dog, the main character is still a PI that gets in way over his head.
It gets worse as, after all, every person has a Black Dog. Every Person.
This one, as much I adored it, doesn't end well. It doesn't help that Huskyteer definitely knew how to punch me, as a reader, in a heart with her prose by the time the ending rolled around.
9/10. I'm still having trouble feeling happy after reading this.
2. Brooklyn Blackie and The Unappetizing Menu by Bill Kieffer
I don't care how much of a handsome Grey Wolf/German Shepherd hybrid and Badass Noir Guy Brooklyn Blackie is.
This story started out "simple enough" but quickly became one of the MOST EFFED up things I have ever read - Noir or No Noir. Going into details without spoiling way too much would be impossible , but...
I WILL SAY...
10/10/. VERY distressing. Much trauma. Cannot Unsee or Unread. Mission accomplished. This story will forever scar me. Superbly written though.
GOOD JOB, BILL. GOOD. JOB. (I'll never forgive you.)
3. Danger in the Lumo-Bay by Mary Lowd
Pretty DANG good pastiche of a Star Trek-style adventure wrapped up in a thick coating of Anthropomorphic Animals – thus a superior product in my opinion, if I must be frank. I'm only partially familiar with the inspirational source material on the barest bones level, but this story stands out to me more than the usual homages.
I love the framing device of this Noir story being a “Holo-Deck” session, or a“Lumo-Bay” as this particular case may be.
Alas, it doesn’t lessen the dark and heartbreaking blow of the Noir Genre. I’d say that it actually makes it feel worse since there’s the “none of this is real” scenario, but it’s definitely the “lightest” story in the entirety of Inhuman Acts.
Points beyond measure. This Bird didn’t curl up in a corner feeling dead inside nor endlessly cry upon reading this one.
That covers the highlights that I could really put my opinion into words for.
Other notable mentions that were most definitely relevant to my Reader Interests are (in order): Crimson on Copper by Tony Greyfox, Ghosts by Solus Lupus, Guardian Angels by Nicholas Hardin, Scorned by K.C. Alpinus.
This isn’t to say that any of the others I haven’t mentioned are worse or bad. I don’t know. Some things in Inhuman Acts resonated with me more than others, I guess?
To be fair, writers like Ianus Wolf or Watts Martin are brilliant either way even if their particular additions to this anthology weren't 'for me'. And heck, the works of Tana Simensis or Slip Wolf or T.S. McNally or Marshall L. Moseley just might be THE favorites of other readers
Who can say? And it's, without a doubt, tough to pick.
And of course, this entire book ends in the Afterword with the same person it began with in the Foreword. Although, you may have overstayed your welcome to say the least. Which was a perfect note to conclude on. So, I have to give Ocean Tigrox infinite points and mad props for that final touch.
“INHUMAN ACTS”. One of the best damn furry anthologies I've read to date and it is clear that this project meant A LOT to the Editor and the writers involved in it.
Give it a buy and give it a read. HELL, buy it for you friends! Buy it for your family! BUY IT FOR EVERYBODY IN YOUR SCHOOL. O_O
You. Will. Not. Regret It.