Moth and Rust, by Eddie Drueding – Fred Patten’s book review.
by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Moth and Rust, by Eddie Drueding.
White Bear Lake, MN, Melange Books, August 2014, trade paperback $13.95 ( + 190 [+ 5] pages).
This is Arraborough Book 3, following the 2012 Book 1, The Unimaginable Road and the 2013 Book 2, The Darkness. It will be followed by Book 4, Revelation.
Eddie Drueding’s Arraborough series, featuring his idealistic anthropomorphized animal community and the mysterious and ominous forces that oppose it, moves on to its third annual volume. If you have read the first two, get it! If you haven’t, try The Unimaginable Road first. Arraborough is not for everyone.
The comments that I made on Book 2 are even more true for Book 3. There is a two-page “The Story So Far …” that is so brief as to be more confusing than enlightening. It is assumed that the reader is familiar with all the large cast. Drueding’s habit of writing in the present tense (the story begins abruptly, “Pimlico bends down, gathers Dovan’s dead body in his arms, and rises. They remain in that position for a long moment, the cat simply too stunned to move, stunned not least of all by the very weight of Dovan in his arms, a lightness he can only feel unfitting to being the only remaining testimony to all that Dovan had been in life.”) is offputting at first. The reader may still be caught in a “Wait a minute; WHAT!?” moment from the discovery of the ancient spaceship at the climax of Book 2. Even readers familiar with the story may want to refresh their memories- it’s been a year since Book 2 was published. What animals, again, are Tust and Fespin?
But the reader quickly becomes used to the present tense, and the characters’ species are clarified. (Tust Turtle and Fespin Squirrel.) Moth and Rust is a Biblical reference (“moth nor rust”, actually) to ancientness; in this case, the incredibly old spaceship.
As a result of the events in The Darkness, most of the neighbors in Arraborough no longer trust each other. Everyone is looking for the traitors that he and she believe are working to sabotage the community. Mobane Red Dog has been clearly revealed as a traitor, which proves that they are not just being paranoid; but is Mobane working alone or does he have secret partners? And what is his motivation?
In addition, there are the authorities of the Criminal Activity CounterForce who are convinced that the inhabitants of Arraborough are all criminals and troublemakers, and are looking for any excuse to declare the community illegal. Is Mobane an agent of those authorities, or is he a separate threat? Are there other separate threats? In any case, how are the Arraboroughans to defend themselves? How does the ancient spaceship fit into this?
And then most of this goes sideways. A new mystery comes to the fore in Moth and Rust: the chromatics, like Babirusa Berkshire, the hog (one of several new characters) with large splotches of apple-green mixed in with her normal black & white bristles. Well, not an entirely new mystery; there have always been a few standout animals, like Dovan Dog with his bright blue fur in The Unimaginable Road, but now it seems that there are enough of them to have their own name, and they know each other. What is the chromatics’ secret agenda?
Another new character is Diana, a rare human from far-off Argothelium. (Diana Human?) She wears clothes, which draw more attention than she does. Most of the anthro animals dismiss her as just another variety of the apes (Robespire [sic.] Baboon, Hlobates Chimpanzee, Sautigant Tamarin) who have come for Dovan Dog’s funeral; but humans (with almost no fur, and boobs) have tended to consider themselves as distinct from other animals. What does she want?
Other new characters include Gunnison Marmot; and the sinister Mustela Ermine, the Mistress of the Lavender Palace, which is not the kind of establishment that you’re thinking of. Many questions are answered in Moth and Rust, including the unexpected prehistory of Arraborough, but the whole subplot of the chromatics and their horrid offshoot, the Crimson Children (or are the chromatics the offshoot of the CC?), is introduced and wrapped up here. What are the real goals of the criminal Serpent Society? What is the Genesis Project? Some of the friendlier inhabitants of Arraborough turn out to have unknown and worrying pasts, and one of them is revealed as a callous killer.
I have a personal quirk of trying to visualize the unillustrated stories that I read. Drueding’s are particularly difficult to visualize, with its civilization of unclothed anthro animals like dogs, cats, eagles, badgers, turtles, snakes, ostriches, and others that all walk on two legs and interact together:
“In a small but meaningful voice, Slick [snake] tells the back of Poomer’s [dog] head, ‘I want the both of you, right here, right now, so I won’t have to repeat myself when I ream your asses out. You guys want your revenge, then come get it.’
Slick ends his sentence by grabbing Poomer’s arm and swinging him back around.
The dog, wanting no part of this, shrugs off the end of Slick’s tail and shakes his head disgustedly. ‘I’ll tell you for the last time: I had no part in that.’” (p. 10)
The animals walk on two legs instead of four – including the snakes? Or this:
“Her legs waver. ‘Oh, no,’ she cries as they give out from under her and she falls to her knees. ‘Oh, God. Oh, please.’” (p. 181)
That’s a chicken who is falling to her knees.
Each Book of Arraborough has a different cover artist. Moth and Rust’s is Stephanie Flint, whose cover shows Spiny Echidna (or Echidnae, as Drueding spells it), the bartender with a thick lower-class Southern accent. The armadillo is unimportant, but Spiny is an important character.
“Arraborough – Explore the Mystery”. Moth and Rust ends on another cliffhanger; no surprise.
Arraborough Book 1, The Unimaginable Road – Fred’s review on Flayrah.
Arraborough Book 2, The Darkness – Fred’s review on Flayrah.
Behind the Scenes – Moth and Rust – From cover artist Stephanie Flint.