Dust of 100 Dogs–Book Review

I met A.S. King at the Backspace Writers Conference in May 2010. She is one of the most down-to-earth, approachable author I’ve ever met. Her first book, The Dust of 100 Dogs, sold out at the conference.

At the time, I was struggling with my manuscript’s genre–marketing college age characters as YA. She advised me to change them to high school age if I wanted to sell it as YA and confided that she had written a couple books set in college. But they just take up room in a drawer. The market doesn’t seem to have a place for them.

I followed her advice and it has led to multiple requests for my manuscript, to which I am eternally grateful to her. Sometimes, you need someone to give you perspective on the industry and she did that for me.

That alone made me want to buy her books. She was a genuine person,who took time to help me deal with one of the biggest stumbling blocks in my manuscript.

So I bought both her books–signed copy from Aaron’s Books.

I read Please Ignore Vera Dietz, which is an Edgar-nominated YA novel, back in December and reviewed it. It still lingers in the back of my mind. It’s the kind of book you can’t walk away and forget. And you don’t want to.

So I pushed aside all the other books on my to-read list and grabbed The Dust of 100 Dogs. A.S. King’s first book was as mind-blowingly good and haunting as her second book had been. I’m chomping at the bit for her third due out this year.

But onto the review…

The Dust of 100 Dogs is an amazing tapestry of converging events. Emer Morrisey is a famed teenage pirate who was cursed with the dust of 100 dogs and forced to reincarnate 100 times as a dog before she can return to a human body with her memories intact. There is a short prologue of Emer’s last moments and then we enter the story via Saffron (Emer’s assuming human form again).

Pirate+curse+reincarnation+snarky teenager with knowledge of former pirate queen.

I was hooked by page 4.

The book flashes from Saffron growing up to Emer’s life story to a dog’s life. In a quirky twist, it also includes training tips for dogs. The story draws you deeper into all their lives until they converge on a beach in the Caribbean.

Wow. I never saw it coming. Intricately crafted plot. Beautifully written protagonist, allowing teen angst to combine with bloodthirsty pirate. Three dimensional characters. I teared up as I read all that Emer had to endure. And rooted for Saffron to somehow avenge Emer.

The Dust of 100 Dogs is likely to be my favorite YA read of 2011. Though A.S. King’s third book is coming out soon…

It’s been a week since I finished it and the story still rolls around in my mind. Ms. King painted such a vivid picture of her characters, they become a part of you.

If you’re searching for a spellbinding adventure and an unintentional emotional journey, check this book out.

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