Donovan Shoemaker Character in Judge of Mystics | World Anvil

Donovan Shoemaker

Nebulous shadows of guests surged past in this private nether-space. Donovan rushed in fourth dimensional dissonance as multiple shadows of Finnegan's ghostly acquaintance made dozens of drinks simultaneously for dozens of patrons, who never saw this backstage. Finnegan's Bluff was innumerable pubs and clubs across the planet. It formed from lost bric-a-brac. The significance of forgotten moments tasted by the inebriated. Morphed into a magical null space, possibility was worshipped with the same reverence as priests or priestesses in their sacred shrines. Doffing his peacoat on the empty bar, Caleb rubbed his face and sighed.
— Book of Revels

Donovan Francis Shoemaker (a.k.a. Dono, Rifle Don, Bullets)

A Gjenganger who works as the chief bartender at Finnegan's Bluff Public House, Donovan has the pulse on the Realms. While to some the idea Donovan spends his unlife behind a bar might seem a form of imprisonment, for the corporeal ghost known to most as Dono, the act of tending Finnegan's bar is both resolution and salve.

Apparently, since as a book I have no olfactory senses to prove the following statement, Donovan possesses the ability to get a person's libation correct to a near perfect degree. Some say his drinks are perfection, but knowing perfection to be a scientifically impossible concept, I shudder (if I could get Karisma to shake me by the spine) to consider the consequences to the Cosmos if the one perfect thing within it was a bartender's ability to inebriate.

"Hey, Donovan makes me the best brownie sundaes, too. And italian sodas and lemonades when it's hot, and tea and hot cocoa... oh gosh you have not lived until you've had Donovan's hot cocoa on a winter's day, he blow torches the homemade marshmallows, Book. He blow torches the..."
— Karisma Calebdottir
Yes, yes, as a book, I do not live, thank you again for the reminders of my limitations. Limitations I share with the man in question: Donovan. Are you done interrupting?
"Almost, it's just... Donovan doesn't only pour hootch for adults, you know? And! And there're the ones who don't drink the booze! He makes a mean cuppa and..."
— Karisma Calebdottir
I did say libation, child. A drink poured in tribute and not necessarily alcohol-involved. It would benefit you to read all the words and not leap to conclusions off a minimal scan.

Physical Description

General Physical Condition

A Gjenganger, Donovan shows no sign of life if one were to concentrate on his appearance. Being a bartender in Finnegan’s Pub has its advantage, as most Folk don't stare at their serving staff. If they did, they would witness death reanimated, a gaunt and pale man with the faintest hint of blue on his lips, around his eyes and fingernails.

Unlike other Gjengangere, Donovan at times becomes semi-corporeal, usually when pouring multiple drinks at a time or in moments closest to bliss.

Special abilities

Due to his nature, Donovan sees beyond the veil of life, death and divinity. He senses more than sees those around them, into their true natures. Donovan also possesses preternatural gifts of speed, to the point where during avid service times he appears to pour a dozen drinks at once, arms a multitude of blurs. 

It is as if Donovan better than most understands the transitional nature of liminal space, as if other than Finnegan, he alone sees each place which attaches to Finnegan's Pub for what it is, for how it's needed.

Apparel & Accessories

A white linen gentleman's shirt with sleeves kept up to his elbows with sleeve garters, woollen waistcoat and trousers finish off Donovan's look. It might seem 'old fashioned' to some, hipster to others, but a bit of scruff on his face and a hair cut better seen in historybounding circles has done him well through the century and a half he's been behind Finnegan's bar.

Mental characteristics

Personal history

Born in the newly minted State of Florida in the 1840's, Donovan's formative years were suffused with the tensions leading up to the American Civil War. A war in which Donovan fought. Truth be, other than meeting his wife Maria Isabella, Donovan holds little to no memory of it aside from the churn and the violence. Odd things, which would bring a more gaunt characteristic to his face.

The War aged him, but Donovan returned to the orange groves outside the New Switzerland plantation to start his and Maria Isabella's lives together. Money was tight, and Donovan ventured out at the behest of an old buddy to chase work. Some jobs more legitimate than others, he sent what he made home to his wife.

One November evening between Florida and Texas, on his way into the Saloon for a drink and a meal, Donovan was struck from behind. Killed for his coat, as the snow fell. A deep magic struck his woeful spirit, and although his body had been tossed into a ditch on the side of the road, Donovan wasn't done. He got up and after spooking his horse, and all the other horses he tried to commandeer, walked home. The cold didn't touch him, no food tempted his tongue.

Donovan was dead, and after a run-in with a suspiciously Nordic parson, he knew it.

It's best the Gjenganger not linger on the past, for it is spite, anger and grit-toothed horror which brings about the furthering of his condition downward to the irredeemable and insatiable Draugr. And nobody wants that, the man hasn't written down his recipes.


Since death took him, Donovan has no sexual inclinations of any kind. He doesn't seem phased in the slightest by anyone else's.


Since stumbling into the Axis Mundi in 1870, Donovan took up the dish rag and the bottle. How he came to be Finnegan's trusted bartender is up for debate, most seem to say he was abled body, gentle enough and incapable of letting go to that little bit of usefulness or comfort he has left.

Donovan is a consummate talent at listening and advice, or at sussing out how genuine a person is in conversations. He's seen through many a ploy, and most imagine the shot gun mentioned in casual talk is as real as Odin's love of mead and poetry.

It is, by the way, quite real.

Accomplishments & Achievements

Surviving the American Civil War.

Mental Trauma

Being murdered. Seeing theft. Watching his wife find another man.

Morality & Philosophy

"If there ain't no peace to fetch, might as well be useful. Pass another glass, Tuj."


Theft. Do not steal so much as a sugar cube within Donovan's awareness.

Personality Characteristics


The desire to be useful (and search for the Folk who struck him in the back of the fething head) controls most of Donovan's motivations. Any other need the Gjenganger has can be summed up in the fascination of meeting Folk from across the myriad dimensional realities which compose the Realms. Life, and the observations of it, have not stopped being fascinating enough for the ghost to find his peace.


Contacts & Relations

One might argue Donovan is the single best connected entity in the entirety of the Realms. As for close connections, there are none closer than Finnegan and Tuija Draganova, with Caleb Mauthisen coming in a close third.

Tuija and Donovan were the first Mystic Folk to turn the Axis Mundi into their home, and although Tuija kept to her bottle for the first 20 years of knowing him, they eventually became friends. It was Donovan's gentle ask, "Hey there, Tuija, sure wouldn't mind none if you grabbed them glasses over there for me", which turned Tuija from a blind, stiff drunk to a fellow tender of Finnegan's Bar. One part bouncer, one part bartender, Tuija spent the next hundred years with Dono as her most solid friend.

He approved, when Tuija and Caleb started making eyes, nudged in his way...

"Donovan helped Dad find love?"
— Karisma Calebdottir
Is it strange, little one? Donovan saw them dance around each other for years, long after you were born to...
"Nope! Sorry I asked. Nope, nope, nope."
— Karisma Calebdottir
Child you will need to speak of your mother eventually, the same way Donovan will eventually need to voice the remainder of his pain so he can ascend to his rightful afterlife. You will never know peace until you... 
"I think I'm done looking at Donovan, now. Next article, please."
— Karisma Calebdottir
Date of Death
November 1st
1842 1869 27 years old
Circumstances of Death
Murdered for his Coat
St. Augustine, Florida
Place of Death
Two steps from the saloon door
Current Residence
The Bar
Skin Tone/Pigmentation
Gaunt & Greyish
Quotes & Catchphrases
"S'work what needs doing. Pick up a rag or get your ass off the stool."
Other Affiliations
Ruled Locations

Social Aptitude

Friendly, charismatic but forgettable, as all good bartenders ought to be. An easy talker, easier unobtrusive pourer of beverages, and delightful conversationalist... until you get him rattled. Do not be that subset of being known as 'the douche' if you want to stay in Finnegan's Pub without getting lost forever... or thrown out.

Appears In

The Judge of Mystics Saga is a series of contemporary magic realism novels by Sapha Burnell, published by Vraeyda Literary.
Book Cover of a shadow in front of smoke

Print | Digital

Green energy surrounding a man chained to brown rocks


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