Robert's Adventures and the Odyssey of Dracula's Black Dog
Region: Eastern Europe, Romania
Author: Horia Hulban
Original Language: English
Translator: Horia Hulban
Characters: Vasil; Robert Doggie, The Black Dog, Vlad the Impaler, Mirela, Monica, Christy. Gogu Fatty, George Thin Nose
Genre: Fantasy; Horror
Descriptors: animals, dogs, good and evil, magic
Age: 12+ years old
Robert’s Adventures and the Odyssey of Dracula’s Black Dog by Romanian author Horia Hulban follows the life of Robert from childhood into adulthood as he grows from an ordinary human being into a hero with extraordinary powers. The novel is split up into five parts and each section takes Robert on a new adventure that builds from the previous story. In part one, readers meet our reckless, cake-loving protagonist Robert as he undergoes a frenzied fever dream after eating dinner without washing his hands. Hulban sets the tone right away for this wacky adventure by introducing a sentient microbe who was on a mission to change Robert’s bad habits and to make Robert realize that he needs to eat healthier, wash his hands, and choose a more realistic career goal. The novel really takes off in parts two and three when Robert begins his transformation from human boy to dog-man after the Supreme Court of All Dogs punishes Robert for his past sins against dog-kind by turning him into a dog. Robert’s time as a dog is short-lived, as the dogs must reverse the sentence after he is captured by the town’s dogcatchers. However, this mishap unleashes a prophecy foretold hundreds of years prior by Vlad the Impaler that his beloved pet, The Black Dog, would be killed in the future by “a dog that was not a dog”. The Black Dog arrives to unleash terror on Robert’s town, and it is his destiny to use his newfound magical abilities to defeat the giant, bloodthirsty beast. The remaining two sections of the novel are not quite as impactful as the others, as even the author admits in the first sentence to part four, “this should have been the end of the novel.” However, they are still fun to read and see Robert navigate his adult life while trying (and failing) to leave his magical dog abilities in the past. The author excels at creating memorable characters and building the dark, fantastical world that they live in. Hulban, inspired by historical documents from the Middle Ages, incorporates iconic and legendary figures such as Vlad the Impaler and the Pied Piper of Hamelin, bringing them to life in this contemporary gothic tale. The novel is told through third person narration, with the narrator often giving readers insight into what is going to happen before it actually happens. Robert’s Adventures is somehow simultaneously fast-paced and relaxed, as the action within each storyline does happen quite quickly but often the characters have lengthy, tangential discussions beforehand. Most of the book is carried through dialogue as all the characters are quite chatty and prone to hyperbole. Due to the mature content, lack of illustrations, and complex vocabulary used, this novel is best for readers 12 and up.
More About This Book
Notes: This e-book copy contains a few typography errors throughout, but they are minimal and do not distract from the story. Additional sources used: [http://sbprabooks.com/horiahulban/]
Content warning: This book contains material that may be sensitive to some readers: 1) Throughout the novel, there are several negative remarks made about young Robert being overweight. Young children struggling with body issues may feel uncomfortable reading these comments. 2) As this is a horror novel, it contains graphic content. There are mentions of animal abuse, gore, impalements, plague, death, children drowning, and rats eating people’s pets. 3) Dogs are central to the story, so every time the author refers to a female dog, the term “bitch” is used.
Author’s Website: http://sbprabooks.com/horiahulban/
Reviewed by Leah Byrnes