Review of Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones

March 7, 2017


For the brunt of this story, you can almost forego the notion of supernatural, as the human side dwells in the forefront. Full of emotion and honest yearning, the storyteller, a boy aching to be, while soaking up supernatural lore and game shows, is a boy so realistic one can forget the dog in his bloodline.

The humanity isn’t the only struck bull’s eye. So often, it seems, authors come from similar world’s and experiences, just as often they miss the realities of poverty, of living hand… err, paw to mouth. I don’t know the history of Mr. Jones as a human being, I do know however that he nailed an existence that isn’t all bad or good, but is and is in a specific way. It is faithful from the stolen ketchup packets to the indifference of having to steal the ketchup packets in the first place. The busted vehicles, the trashy homes, the messes, the carelessness, this family could be any family of a certain snack bracket.

Mongrels is a brilliant tale of growing up while everyone else is growing old. The style is measured and rich, it's an experience to dwell on. I am in awe of the presentation and impact of this impossible story in that it came off as utterly undeniable, as if, of course werewolves exist. This tale is a quiet powerhouse by a gifted author.



Note unrelated to the actual review: Mongrels, from the very beginning, gave me a vibe that I’d experienced while reading before. I asked, and Stephen Graham Jones has not read A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, but Mongrels shares a stylistic and tonal kinship with this fantastic (general fiction) novel. It is uncanny how two stories, one about werewolf life and the other about Mennonite life, could feel so similar.


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Powell River, British Columbia, Canada
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