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Gothic Noir in the Tradition of Weird Tales: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, Book One: Mad Shadows by Joe Bonadonna

Sunday, January 5th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Mad Shadows Joe Bonadonna-small Mad Shadows Joe Bonadonna-back-small

Joe Bonadonna’s first swords and sorcery collection Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, which won the 2017 Golden Book Readers’ Choice Award for Fantasy, is one of the most successful modern S&S offerings — especially among our readers. It contains many fine stories, including the novelette “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” perhaps the most popular piece of online fiction ever published at Black Gate.

Mad Shadows was originally published in January 2011, and last month Pulp Hero Press released a second revised edition with a new cover, new maps, revised text, and an expanded Afterword on Heroic Fantasy and Sword & Sorcery. In his 2012 review Fletcher Vredenburgh wrote “Mad Shadows is good stuff. It’s got no pretensions to be anything other than a worthy addition to the canons of S&S and there it’s wildly successful.” And in his BG article “The Coming of Dorgo the Dowser,” William Patrick Maynard wrote:

Joe Bonadonna describes his fiction as ‘Gothic Noir’ and it is entirely appropriate. As much as Mad Shadows succeeds in carrying on the tradition of Weird Tales, the brooding, darkly-humored Dorgo could have easily found a home in the pages of Black Mask if only his (dowsing) rod shot lead rather than divined spirits. The six stories in Mad Shadows offer a mixture of traditional sword & sorcery necromancers and demons as well as werewolves, vampires, witches, and bizarre half-human mutations that H. P. Lovecraft would happily embrace.

Joe followed up his original collection with Mad Shadows II: Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent in 2017 (which Fletcher reviewed for us here). Read an excerpt right here at Black Gate.

The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, Book One: Mad Shadows was published by Pulp Hero Press on December 8, 2019. It is 282 pages, priced at $14.95 in paperback, and is available worldwide in paperback and Kindle editions. Check it out, and read all our previous coverage of Dorgo’s adventures here.

4 Comments »

  1. I loved the two Dorgo volumes. They really are fun blends of dark fantasy and mystery. I only have them by Kindle version. Jumping on this paperback, which will compel me to find Joe and get it signed. I recall from Facebook posts that a third volume was in the works, but I can’t remember details.

    Comment by SELindberg - January 5, 2020 4:12 pm

  2. Thank you so much, John O’Neill, for such a splendid presentation!

    Seth Lindberg – thank you so much! Book Two will undergo “rehab” sometime in February. I’m currently working on – and a long way from finishing – Book Three.

    Comment by Joe Bonadonna - January 5, 2020 4:22 pm

  3. You’re most welcome, Joe! Keep us posted on the progress for Book 3, please.

    Comment by John ONeill - January 8, 2020 11:24 am

  4. I definitely will, John – and Waters of Darkness, too. Thank you!

    Comment by Joe Bonadonna - January 10, 2020 8:33 am


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