Wednesday, May 2, 2012


5.0 out of 5 stars Strong characters, great plots, smart dialogue, August 22, 2011

The main character in Joe Bonadonna's peripatetic fantasy novel Mad Shadows is an unlikely hero named Dorgo the Dowser. He investigates supernatural crimes involving black magic and other forms of sorcery by using a special dowsing rod, given him by an old sorcerer, that lets him know when what's been left behind at the scene of a crime is going to lead to dark mysteries as well as frights, fisticuffs, or other seriously dangerous unpleasantries. This is sword-and-sorcery of a witty, sometimes brutal sort that will remind you of Fritz Leiber, Jr., Dashiell Hammett, and maybe even Mickey Spillane--all successfully rolled into one authoritative voice.

Dorgo encounters an unsavory gallery of rogues in this novel as well as gold-addicted shadow-creatures, an interesting box that contains an infernal surprise, shape-shifting necromancers, a pair of demonic gemstones, and a classic femme fatale who surrounds her person with half-human bodyguards. Fun for the reader, tough on Dorgo! And these are in just the first chapter of this collection, because the Dowser must also contend later on with a dead witch, entities spawned in Hell, a host of living puppets, a diamond with mystical healing powers, and a village trapped inside a nightmare.

Mad Shadows reads like old-school, pulp-style sword-and-sorcery done with a modern edge. The characters run deep, and you'll find that you care about many of them--and then be surprised and saddened at what happens to them. Dorgo himself will feel as comfortable to you as an old shoe within the first couple of pages--a tough guy who's also a bit of a softie (although don't tell him I told you so!). Very enjoyable reading, scenes that keep you turning the pages, and superb dialogue. I want more Dorgo stories!

5.0 out of 5 stars mad shadows: the weird tales of dorgo the dowser, July 26, 2011
This review is from: Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser (Paperback)
Joe Bonadonna is one helluva fantasy writer, with an imagination that seethes and bubbles with the sort of apparitions you crave on the page and pray you'll never encounter when you throw open your blinds.

MAD SHADOWS is a unique odyssey of bizarre adventures, featuring "Private Instigator-for-Hire" Dorgo the Dowser (so dubbed for his amazing magic-detecting rod/weapon---and yes, he does as much instigating as investigating). These stories play out on the tapestry of a richly blended world of myth and wit and dark dealings in magical back alleys where souls are bartered and devoured; where even love must don armor to survive; and the less wholesome parts of demons can prove to be of...curious value. Think of Dorgo as Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, mashed into a single medieval gumshoe (gumboot?). A decent, if ill-starred and fatalistic, guy, whose quest for basic survival and happiness sets him up for encounters with a host of monstrous crypto-critters, twisted sorcerers---and dangerous femmes who out-menace them all.

So tap a keg of mead, loosen your baldric, and settle back and enjoy MAD SHADOWS. It's tres-noir crime fiction-meets-Hordes of Darkness in a world of balls-out clash-'n'-conjure combat.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Paranormal Mystery, July 3, 2011
This review is from: Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser (Paperback)
"Valdar is city of swordslingers and necromancers, witch cults and half-human races...This is my city. This is my world." Joe Bonadonna, Mad Shadows

Take a wisecracking detective who's handy with both sword and dowsing rod. Take a mosaic of villages with evil lurking in every alleyway. Take a host of supernatural villains. Take all this and more and you've got Mad Shadows, one of the most amazing reads of my summer! I had a blast matching swords with "Dorgo's" meta-humans, hunting down beasties and seeking out magic with his dowsing rod. In short, I give Joe Bonadonna's Mad Shadows an enthusiastic five stars as a thoroughly enjoyable and exciting read!!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Kept me looking forward to each new adventure!, April 13, 2012
 This review is from: Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser (Paperback)
I recently had the pleasure of reading Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser by fantasy author Joe Bonadonna.

The book itself begins with Dorgo Mikawber investigating the appearance of an ominous group of shadowy figures stealing all the gold in the village of Valdar, a story that captivates you from the first page. I was however, pleasantly surprised to find out that Joe had not just written a novel based solely on these Mad Shadows, but had compiled a group of stories following the life and times of Dorgo.

I can not remember the last time I got excited to open up a book in eager anticipation to follow a character on a new adventure. I have to admit, it made me feel like a kid again. Each tale is amusing, packed full of adventure, suspense; and even though the setting is based in a fantasy world, it reminds me of one of those classic detective stories from the 1930s.

Joe's style of writing paints a vivid image of the world he has created, one easily visualized by the reader. His characters are well developed, their dialogue flows easy; so easily at times that I could picture myself sitting at the Hungry Hyena eating dinner with the rest of Valdar's vagabonds.

Dorgo, his main character, is a hero most people can relate with. He is a moral man in his own way, and though he might not collaborate with some of Valdar's most respected; he does what is necessary to finish any case he's been hired for.

I give Mad Shadows 5 stars, and I am eager to see what adventures Joe has next for Dorgo the Dowser!
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent fantasy novel!, January 28, 2012
Joe Bonadonna introduces the reader to an exciting fantasy world where a private investigator, Dorgo, with a dowsing rod that detects and reveals the nature of magic that is present or was recently used in an area, either solves crimes or becomes entangled in adventures. The stories are fast-paced, engaging, and well plotted with satisfying conclusions. Don't miss out on Mad Shadows!
5.0 out of 5 stars Mad Shadows is an awesome read, May 1, 2011

This review is from: Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser (Paperback)
Finally, someone has merged film noir with sword and sworcery. Bonadonna has successfully combined the essence of both Weird Tales and Black Mask magazines. This novel is a series of 6 interconnecting stories about Dorgo the Dowser, a fantasy version of a private eye. The first 3 stories, Mad Shadows, The Secret of Andaro's Daughter, and The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum are clever and imaginative tales, filled with wit and plenty of action. The final 3 stories, The Man Who Loved Puppets, In The Vale of the Black Diamond, and Blood on the Moon are darker, more serious tales of human drama and tragedy. MAD SHADOWS is high adventure sword and sorcery -- pulp fiction at its best.