Publisher: Flux, Llewellyn Publications
Publish Date: February 2009
Cover Art: Gavin Dayton Duffy
I can’t help but think that “The Dust of 100 Dogs” isn’t really a YA novel. I know that some teenagers would definitely read it and love it, but reading it as an adult I found some of it to be very thought provoking. I’m glad to see that YA is beginning to blur that line between YA and Adult novels. So let’s take a look at this one…but first, can I mention the cover? LOVE IT! I adore the mod looking girl and the ship and the skull...just everything about it screamed "you want to read me!" Anyway, back to the review:
What do you do when your village is destroyed, you lose your true love and get sold into marriage? You become a bloodthirsty pirate! Emer Morrisey watched her village be destroyed at six years old, on her birthday. She escaped with the help of her uncle who beat her regularly until she quit talking. Emer didn’t talk for years, until she began embroidering again. In the meantime, she met her true love, Seanie. Seanie didn’t talk either. When her uncle sells her into marriage with a Frenchman, she loses all hope of ever seeing Seanie again. But Emer is a fighter and eventually ends up as the Captain of a pirate ship. It’s a struggle getting there and she has to avoid a second Frenchman who is obsessed with her. As is the case with pirates, Emer is killed and as she lay dying she is cursed to live out the lives of 100 dogs, with her memory intact, before she becomes a girl again.
Saffron Adams is born into a poor family. Everyone believes she’s a genius because she knows so much history. Saffron isn’t a genius, she’s the reincarnation of Emer. She has all of Emer’s knowledge, including where her buried pirate’s treasure is. All she has to do is wait until she’s eighteen and then she can go get it. I didn’t feel that I got to know Saffron or to care about her as a character, because Emer overpowered her. Even when she’s listening to her parents, she’s thinking about how she would skin them or mutilate them – that’s all the pirate, Emer. She continuously works toward being able to go to the tropics to find Emer’s buried treasure. Saffron seemed to be simply a vessel to carry Emer’s thoughts, feelings, wants and needs – with none of her own.
There are eight “Dog Facts” sections in the book – each describing some facets of dog behavior, from Emer’s experience. These seem to be applicable to humans as well as dogs and are quite interesting, as you’ll find yourself thinking that you know people that act like that.
I won’t tell anymore as I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone, but I will say that it is one of the best books I have read and I’ve already loaned out my copy to one person and recommended it to several more. The story captivated me and I found myself rooting for Emer to get what she wanted and to have a happy ending.