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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Hibernaculum is a short story collection written by Kim McDougall. The title story is a post-apocalyptic vision of a devastated world surrounding the Dome, the last safe refuge for humanity. While many feel safe and sheltered inside the climate-controlled Dome, others can’t help but wonder about the outdoors, about the wildlife, the open spaces, and the adventures to be had out there. Leaving the Dome is strictly forbidden, but, for a price, there are guides called Coyotes, who will take those curious and reckless souls out into the wilds. Cross is one of those Coyotes, and his newest clients have no idea what their expedition will actually cost them. In Luminari, Devon is doomed to remain mortal, even though he's the beloved of his Rosalie, a lovely vampire. Some mortals can be turned; they're called the Chosen, but Devon is not one of them. He'll grow old, and Rosalie will move on. But there's one thing he can do for her first. Barbegazi takes place in a mountainous region where summers are short and the winters transform the area into a vast snowy world. Etien, son and heir of the Duke of Fabia, loves the cold air and challenging his wits, skill and strength against the steepest mountains and most perilous peaks. It was out there on the snowy steppes that he was really, truly alive.
Kim McDougall's short story collection, Hibernaculum, transports the reader into a succession of alternative worlds, each more fantastic and vivid than the last. I enjoyed the darkly humorous title story with its imaginative post-apocalyptic wildlife and naive tourists, and found it a welcome change from the all-too-common dystopian melange of flesh-eating zombies. McDougall presents an intriguing juxtaposition of the wild places as seen through a Coyote's eyes and those of his clients. Luminari is a poignant and lovely homage to classic vampire tales, and Devon's trip to the old country evoked memories of my first reading of Bram Stoker's Dracula. In Barbegazi, I felt the author saved her best for last. There's beauty and majesty in the Fabian highlands and their harsh and snowy winters, and Etien's coming of age is particularly stirring and profound. Hibernaculum is a thought-provoking, lyrical and gorgeously written work that is highly recommended.