The Juniper Dog strained its twisted roots against an ember red sky, snarling out swarms of night moths, barking flocks of owls from its splintery jaws. It howled the sea. Spat stars. Clouds roiled and clotted through the tree dog’s teeth.
Anna & the Juniper Dog was published this summer although it’s a tale which seems more suited to the gloom of autumn. (Having said that, summer this year was so persistently cold, wet and dreary it’s been autumn in all but name.) The story is by Geoff Cox, and the slim clothbound volume from Blackmaps Press comes profusely illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason, and with an accompanying CD containing 30 minutes of beautiful instrumentals by Martin Roman Rebelski. This is the second book in a trilogy of tales about Cox’s Anna character, wherein we follow Anna through a succession of dream-like episodes freighted with mysteries, epiphanies and ritual moments.
“Thorns burst from the Old Man’s mouth.”
The combination of another character named Boy, and various encounters with anthropomorphic animals, reminded me of Mervyn Peake’s wonderful Boy in Darkness, while the illustrations bring to mind the cross-hatched art of Edward Gorey. Eason’s drawings add a great deal to the fairytale atmosphere without merely replicating Cox’s evocative descriptions. The icing on the cake is a book design by La Boca with the attention to detail this kind of self-contained project requires: the typesetting uses the ligatures common to better typefaces but which one seldom sees employed today. A great example of the book as an object to be treasured, and ideal reading (and listening) for longer and chillier evenings.