There is something so haunting and lonely about the cover of The Dogs, isn’t there? If a book cover is supposed to embody the soul of the book, providing it’s readers a first impression of the emotion that the story should invoke, than whoever designed this cover really hit the nail on the head. There’s the eeriness of the old house, the sadness of the dead fields… yet there’s a light on in the window, and the sun is shining, which makes it feel almost inviting. It’s a good balance between the darkness of Cameron’s past, and the possibility of his future.
On the outside, The Dogs is a ghostly mystery. Cameron moves to this sleepy quiet town, living in a rundown old farmhouse where he stumbles upon a mystery that happened around 50 years ago. Underneath that, The Dogs is really a story about spousal abuse and the affect it has on an entire family, not just on the wife. I thought that Cameron is obsessed with this mystery partly because he is so confused and unsure of the events of his own past. Through attempting to figure out what happened to Jacky all those years ago, he starts to see his own situation in a new light.
On the whole, The Dogs was a pretty good read. I was definitely caught up in the whodunit of the story. My mind flew through all the different theories of what might have happened to Jacky, and what Mr Sinclair had to do with any of it. I thought that Allan Stratton did a pretty good job of writing the story from the mind of a 15 year old boy who was dealing with life after leaving an abusive parent. Understandably he was confused, especially since he was never given all the facts and was repeatedly given the ‘when your older’ answer to his questions. If he had been well-adjusted and without flaws I would have been been far more turned off. Though, there were times that I thought Cameron was especially annoying. He made really stupid choices, to the point that he felt younger in maturity than 15. I found myself, especially toward the end, yelling at him as I was reading. (I think most teenagers in his situation may be exactly like that, so this isn’t a writing criticism.)
I think the only problem I had, the reason the book only has 4 stars, is because there are hints in the story that Cameron has some psychological problems. As readers we know why he was talking to himself, and it was probably perfectly sane. Yet, Cameron was also told that people saw him hitting himself, and he definitely had anger problems… I think that the book would have benefited from elaborating on this and not just dropping it once the mystery was solved.
Despite that, I really enjoyed reading this book. The story was simple yet elaborate, and the mystery kept me guessing all the way until the clever reveal.
Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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