REVIEW: Human Rights by SL Armstrong

After landing in the pound after being abandoned by yet another family, Ewan is convinced he’s too old to be adopted out again. For a pet like him, the only fate left is to be put down. But when Sir Jiat—of the City Guard, no less—visits the pound, he goes straight to Ewan. Jiat prefers the more mature pets and treats Ewan better than he’s ever been treated by any previous owner. Ewan sleeps at the foot of his master’s bed, not on the floor or outside; he is given toys and other pets to play with and plenty of room to run; and he’s fed on a schedule and eats very well. But Ewan’s love for his master begins to change, to become something else, something more.

Warnings: Slavery themes, human/furry sex, pet play adjacent

Category: M/M, M/F

Human Rights is a hurt/comfort furry novella. It takes place in a role-reversal society where anthropomorphic canines and felines are the dominant species, and humans are the domesticated pets. Ewan is one such human, having been passed from owner to owner and eventually at the end of his desirability as an aging mutt, until he is adopted at the pound by Jiat. The story follows Ewan’s emotional state as he comes to realize that Jiat sees him as more than just a dumb animal, and treats him with dignity and respect that has not been allotted to him by his previous owners. He and his master eventually fall in love, a slowly budding and taboo romance.

When I did the Books I WANT to Read but don’t Want to READ tag, I was reminded that I had had this book sitting in my TBR pile for years and years, so I decided to finally get around to reading it, and I am ever so glad that I did.

WRITING
The writing is fairly simple, and told from the first person POV of Ewan, which gives the text an interesting flavour. Ewan may be a human, but he’s been raised as a pet, and as such his mind is very simple, innocent, almost child-like. The story reads like it’s being narrated be a dog, because it more or less is. It’s a human that’s been conditioned to think like a dog. Which, ironically, makes Ewan more the furry character in the story than any of the actual furry characters. As Ewan’s POV is so limited, we don’t get a lot of glimpses into other character’s experiences, or thoughts, or of the plotline going on in the background, but we do get to spend a lot of time with Ewan’s emotions and development which makes it an extremely character driven narrative. When the plot does actually come into play, there is unfortunately a few glaring plot holes and things that don’t quite make sense, which leads me to think that the author should have taken the time to flesh the story out a little bit more, but it certainly shines in the character development department.

EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT
Ewan is a precious little ball of joy, and I enjoyed every moment spent with him on the page. The author does a beautiful job of getting the reader invested, hooked by Ewan’s cheerful and playful personality. At first he is despondent and depressed, but with careful coaxing from Jiat he comes alive, and it’s an absolute joy. The writer really made me feel for him and want nothing but good things for him, and his developing relationship with Jiat, taboo as it is, felt natural and beautiful. The light D/s nature to their budding romance was also a real treat, and Ewan’s desire to be a good pet, to be pampered and loved and safe, would certainly ring as relatable to anyone with a pet play or even cgl kink.

WORLDBUILDING
The worldbuilding here is nicely done, especially given how short the book is. Despite being told from a limited POV, there are many details we can glean about the setting. Canines and felines are the dominant intelligent species, but they don’t always get along well. Cats, especially, occupy a place of political power as there are more of them. It seems that other animals are not intelligent or anthropomorphic, as they do have beasts of burden like horses pulling their carriages. And humans are domesticated as pets, despite being intelligent enough to learn and speak, which begs the question of how this came about; why are they considered animals and not slaves? Regardless, not all felines and canines believe that humans are actually lesser animals than themselves, and Jiat and his compatriots are a part of a movement to have humans recognized as equals. All of these are fascinating ideas for a setting, and are fleshed out pretty well given the short length of the book.

STEAMINESS
The smut in this book is very fluffy (hah), and it’s very, very cute. There is a nice little bit of interspecies exploration (always a weakness of mine) and very enthusiastic light D/s and pet play going on. The first sex scene takes place between Ewan and a female fellow human pet, an arrangement that Jiat made for him as a “playdate”, but once Ewan and Jiat both admit their growing love and attraction to each other, they cross the line into taboo. It’s not just that it’s furry/human that makes this a kinky reading experience, it’s that it’s human-level-intellectual/personified-puppy-mind that makes it so…. cute, but in a way that skews very off of how a normal sex scene would play out. Like I said, I think this would resonate strongly with a reader with a puppy-play or cgl kink. It wasn’t exactly the sort of material that I personally find super sexy, but it was adorable and enjoyable to read nonetheless.

All in all this is a very cute, if silly and cheesy and a little plot-holey, furry novella that kept me very entertained for an afternoon. I do recommend it if you like the idea of human/furry pairings, role reversal stories, or just really sweet and cute D/s content.

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