Review: 'Jazmyn', by Bernard Doove
Jazmyn, a bioengineered vulpeen (fox-woman) Companion in a parallel world, is fleeing into the forest after the murder of her human lifemate when a lighting flash enables her to stumble into our world. She is glancingly struck by the car of Ken Morita, who nurses her back to health, teaches her English, falls in love with her, and they get married and live happily ever after.
No, seriously. There are plenty of interesting and well-written details between page 7 and page 214, but that is the basic story. You can hardly imagine a more pure Furry wish-fulfillment novel: a beautiful, caring, talented human-sized fox-morph comes to our world, falls in love with [you], and they get married.
CreateSpace, April 2009, trade paperback $16.95 (215 pages; illustrated).
All else is incredibly fortuitous window-dressing: Ken, a young Japanese-American, is a computer programmer who lives in an isolated mountain house, so he has no inconvenient neighbors when he brings Jazmyn home and spends weeks nursing her back to health and teaching her English. Jazmyn was bred to be super-talented at languages to help her Companion, so she not only learns English unbelievably quickly, she also picks up on computer programming language so she can help Ken with his work.
Ken’s Japanese ancestry makes him and his sister Sakura particularly prone to trust “kitsune”. (This feels false. In Japanese mythology, kitsune are Trickster fox-spirits who can be helpful, but some of their tricks on humans are Not Nice.) Ken has a dream job; he can commute from an isolated home, take weeks off and phone in his programming from home, and is the best friend of the boss. Ken’s sister and his boss are momentarily startled when they meet Jazmyn, but within minutes they are all very friendly and pledged to keep her secret. Doove creates a very minor problem every few pages, and quickly solves it.
This is a criticism against Jazmyn. A novel is supposed to have Conflict. There is none except briefly and shallowly in Jazmyn. This is a very “feel good” novel, but very little really happens. Neighbors move into the forest and there is a slight worry that they will learn of Jazmyn’s existence, but they soon are added to the trustworthy friends. Doove pads the details of Ken’s and Jazmyn’s growing romance to fill out Year One of their acquaintanceship, culminating in their wedding:
Sakura said, ‘OK, so what needs to be done for this ceremony?’
Jazmyn replied, ‘A life-mating ceremony is freeform, with the celebrant requiring responses from the couple and the witness. There’s also something to comply with the laws of the State, but since they don’t apply here, we might as well skip that.’
‘Easy then, so we’ll keep it short and simple,’ Sakura said. ‘OK, Ken – you stand here, and Jazmyn on your left. Elizabeth, stand next to me. Right, let’s start. Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today […]’ (p. 201)
Jazmyn is collected from Melbourne Furry fan Doove’s “Chakat’s Den” website, where it appeared as eight episodes during 2008. The story concludes with the “End of Year One”. A sequel is implicitly promised, and four more much weaker episodes did appear on Doove’s website during 2009 and 2010, but the story seems to have stalled at this point.
Jazmyn is not part of Doove’s Chakat universe, and it is free of the sexuality of those stories. It is well-illustrated by Kacey Miyagami, Dark Natasha, Stephanie Stone, Doove himself, and several other artists, as is usual for Doove’s stories, with an attractive wraparound cover by Sara Palmer. If you are looking for a well-written undramatic human-Furry romance, with the emphasis on ROMANCE, look no further.