Saturday, June 20, 2009

THE DUST OF 100 DOGS by A.S. King




As soon as I saw the title of this book, I was intrigued. However, I must admit I had it on my TBR pile for quite some time and kept sliding it down a book or two. Why did I do that? I'm kicking myself now because it is a great book. Definitely not your usual adventure tale, but definitely worth reading.

THE DUST OF 100 DOGS is a story-within-a-story. Emer Morrisey is an Irish girl living a turbulent life back in the late 1600's. When her tiny village is attacked and pillaged, she is the lone survivor in her family. Rescued by an angry uncle, she lives with his family until he deems her old enough to be sold off as a wife. Emer bids a sad farewell to the young love of her life and travels to Paris.

When she meets her husband-to-be, she is repulsed and immediately makes plans for escape. What follows are miserable months slaving away for a group of nuns until Emer hears news of a ship departing for Tortuga where it is said women are in great demand. Perhaps a life in the Caribbean holds the future that will help Emer forget her family and her lost love.

The interesting thing about this novel is the parallel story running alongside Emer's. This second story is about a modern-day protagonist named Saffron. She has problems of her own. Highly intelligent and excellent at her schoolwork, Saffron has been raised by parents who hold her up as their only hope in the world. Her siblings, especially her brother Junior, are bitter disappointments, therefore, leaving her as the beacon bound to be the light of their lives. Saffron, however, has other plans.

What readers soon learn is that Emer and Saffron are connected in an unusual way. Emer's Caribbean life turned into a wild adventure with her as a pirate who pillaged and plundered Spanish treasure. At the moment of her untimely death, she was cursed to return to this world and live the life of 100 dogs. During this reincarnation her memories remain, and when the curse is finally fulfilled, Emer returns once more as Saffron. This explains Saffron's amazing ability to know so much about history and the world in general, and it also explains her childhood desire to be a pirate.

A.S. King has created a truly unique piece of work. Following the stories of Emer and Saffron is a treat. The raw, gritty pirate adventures of Emer mixed with the contemporary pressures faced by Saffron, offer something for all readers. The curse of living the life of 100 dogs is also reflected by occasional interruptions titled DOG FACT #1 and so on. The combination of it all provides three distinct points of view that make this a work of pure genius. Don't let this one slide down your reading list like I did. Get a copy today, and you won't regret it.

1 comment:

Lenore said...

One of my favorites this year!