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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Dawnhounds by Sascha Stronach

The Dawnhounds is a new novel from Sascha Stronach and the first in the “Against the Quiet” series. Centred in New Zealand and unapologetically using the language of the nation despite setting the narrative in a rather dystopian future. Even the quintessential ‘yeah, nah’ makes an appearance. Stronach has a powerful style of writing and is able to construct this magical and exciting premise with flair and control.

Set in a fictional city of Hainak, Stronach constructs an inspired fantastical folktale rich with Māori imagery and a strong queer protagonist in Yat. His own Māori heritage brings a wonderfully evocative environment rich with mythology and fantasy premise.

The descriptions of this futuristic city are superb as he is able to create realism through the vivid explanations, and when matched with the vernacular of New Zealand culture it really feels almost comforting and familiar in this strange fantasy world (the author’s note writes “You may find a simile missing its final word and say to yourself Yeah nah, that’s not on, mate, you dropped the bloody ball there, to which I must cordially respond, Oh yeah nah, it’s meant to do that aye, Kiwi slang is good as.” Brilliant.)

The queer elements of the text are prevalent throughout. In an age where queer literature takes the traditional narratives and really makes it their own, there is a solid engagement with relationships deeply rooted in their humanity.

Narratively speaking, the story unravels towards the end as the set for the sequel becomes clear. It’s easy to find yourself getting lost in the world of imagination and whiling away the hours engrossed in the development of Yat.

Overall, there are some confronting ideas presented throughout the novel, towards society, corruption, policing and relationships. But there is a sense of strong humanity that accentuates the deep connection between people and the importance of understanding and compassion in a world of divide. A thoroughly engaging read

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Saga Press


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