Review by Joel Kreissman

Have you ever had the uncanny feeling that you’ve been someplace before? Met someone new and found them strangely familiar? That’s what happens to Nate and Dan, the beagle and fruit bat deuteragonists of Two Souls of Fangcrest Manor, written by Domus Vocis and illustrated by Fruitz. Both characters have been having strange dreams of living in the Victorian era as a nobleman and his servant engaged in a forbidden romance. When they meet for the first time in the present day, at the estate that appeared in their dreams, they start to suspect that something paranormal might be going on.

Dan and Nate don’t really have an antagonist to confront until the very end. Their past lives, Daivik and John, do in the form of John’s status-conscious mother and brother, but they’re long dead in the present day. This isn’t a bad thing, per se--an engrossing story can be written without a conflict or antagonist--but it might throw some readers off.

I appreciated the worldbuilding involved in writing a world almost like the real world but with furries. There are nods to the logistics required to accommodate bats, flying licenses are treated like driver’s licenses for winged species, and hotels have reinforced rafters where bats can hang upside-down. Also, it seems there was some minor political divergence from the timeline in the past couple centuries, as places in Britain have the same names but Dan mentions a city in America called “Las Estrellas” that is implied to be equivalent to Los Angeles.

Admittedly, I haven’t read too many “reincarnation romance” stories, but Fangcrest Manor addresses an issue that the others I’ve seen ignored, whether being romantically entangled in their past lives means that they should be in a relationship in their present lives or if they have a choice.

I thought it a little odd that Dan took a while to arrive at reincarnation as an explanation, while Nate was suggesting aliens messing with their memories or parallel universes, considering that he’s Indian-American. Even if his family are not particularly devout, reincarnation is a mainstream belief in India, and his past life explains the concept to his lover in one of their flashbacks. Yet Dan acts like it’s a weird New Age idea.

I noticed a bit of a socioeconomic reversal between the main characters’ past and present lives. On top of that, it is noted that the difference in social status between John and Davy was almost as scandalous as their gender in Victorian times, but is almost a non-issue in the present. Davy and John wished they could be born again in a world where they would be accepted. While much of the world has changed a lot on that front since the nineteenth century this reminded me that many queer people still live in fear of their community or their government, and for good reasons. Dan and Nate are not shown experiencing homophobia in the story, aside from the aforementioned ghost, but are still cautious about revealing themselves as gay to strangers. I don’t know if the current wave of homophobia in America and Europe is happening in Dan and Nate’s world, but one can only hope we all live through it.

In all, Two Souls of Fangcrest Manor is quite enjoyable. Two awkward men caught in a romance that transcends death itself, yet are relatable and fun, with good worldbuilding to boot. It’s a good read.