Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: The Dust Of 100 Dogs by A. S. King

The Dust Of 100 Dogs by A. S. King

Pages: 320
Publisher: Flux
Published: February 1st, 2009
IBSN: 9780738714264

In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with "the dust of one hundred dogs," dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body - with her memories intact.

Now she's a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

I think I read the blurb of The Dust Of 100 Dogs a year or so ago, and promptly decided against reading it. But then I read and loved Please Ignore Vera Dietz, so I bought The Dust Of 100 Dogs having forgotten the blurb and not rereading it.

I'm really glad I read this despite the blurb that put me off. I finished the first chapter with the word "wow" on my lips, and the rest just got better.

Emer was an average 17th century Irish girl, until her family was killed in war and she's sent to live with her abusive uncle. He soon sold her off to a Frenchman, but before she could even look at him twice, she ran away to the Carribean and became a pirate (which makes more sense than I make it sound). But just before she can settle down, she's cursed to live 100 lifetimes as a dog. Dog Facts are placed at random intervals through the story, recounting things that Emer learnt as a dog. Through being a dog for so long, she learnt how to really be a human.

The perspective switches every few chapters or so (I like how it didn't seem to have a pattern), and is done skilfully and smoothly. All of the characters who at some point narrate are vital to the story, though that isn't immediately clear.

The plot and the events that lead to Emer's curse aren't revealed until the end, with her flashbacks finally catching up to the curse just as Saffron's reunited with what's left of Emer's legacy. Twists were found around every corner, and made the book completely captivating.

The story was incredibly unique and enthralling, and the way it was told highly emotively: from funny, to happy, to heart-breaking, the tone jumped around a lot, all of the emotions conveyed such that it was easy to relate to the characters.

The ending was extremely satisfying. I didn't think of that turn of events coming, but as soon as it happened, I knew (1) that it was a perfect conclusion, and (2) that I really should have thought of that sooner!

A blend of action, mystery, and romance, complete with a kick-ass protagonist and engaging writing style. A new favourite and a must-read, I give it a 6 out of 5.