Published by Andersen Press on 5th February 2015
Genres: Children's Fiction, Contemporary, Issues, Paranormal, Thriller
Buy on Amazon US • Buy on Amazon UK
Cameron and his mom have been on the run for five years. His father is hunting them. At least, that’s what Cameron’s been told.
When they settle in an isolated farmhouse, Cameron starts to see and hear things that aren’t possible. Soon he’s questioning everything he thought he knew and even his sanity.
What's hiding in the night? Buried in the past? Cameron must uncover the dark secrets before they tear him apart.
Reviewed by Kelly
*I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review*
Let’s get this straight out there – I am a HUGE baby when it comes to scary stuff. I can’t even watch a trailer for a horror film, I have to close my eyes and cover my ears if I can’t get to the TV to turn it to another channel. So what made me willingly request a review copy of this book when I stumbled upon it? Well, I’m a bit of a contradiction when it comes to scary books, in that I can actually read them – it’s all to do with the fact that I can envision things a bit less gruesome and scary in a book, it’s not thrust upon me with no room for interpretation like in a film. With this book, what drew me in was the cover! It’s just so creepy looking, and now that I’ve read the book I can totally envision Cameron, the boy who moved there with his mum, living in that house and being completely freaked out! Plus, I had the benefit of knowing that this is a book aimed at children, so it couldn’t be *that* scary, right?! Hmmm…
Cameron and his mum have been moving from place to place since his mum took Cameron and left her abusive husband, Cameron’s dad, 5 years before the story starts. Within the first few pages, Cameron and his mum are preparing to move again, his mum thinks that they’ve been tracked down. They end up in a town called Wolf Hollow and at a remote farmhouse rental. The farmhouse has a history, one that everyone seems to have an opinion on, and it’s far from a happy one. There are secrets hidden within the walls of the McTavish farmhouse and it’s not long before Cameron finds himself right in the middle of unraveling them, along with his mum’s carefully constructed new life…
So what did I like about this book?
Well, I loved Cameron’s mum. All too often in children’s and YA books, there are issues with the parents and they’re portrayed as the bad guys. In The Dogs, Cameron and his mum *did* have problems, I don’t think it would have been realistic if they didn’t, but she was shown as a strong woman who found the courage to fight back against the abuse she suffered and escape to a better life. That must have been terrifying for her. When I read at the end of the book that the author’s mum had endured a similar situation, I loved Cameron’s mum all the more for the fact that the author used his brave mother as his inspiration.
I also really liked the fact that the two stories, past and present, were somewhat linked. I don’t want to say too much about that, but I think that finding out about the past, both Jacky’s and his own, definitely helped Cameron to better understand and come to terms with his present.
The Dogs had a lot going on, it covered domestic abuse, bullying, death, mental health issues, ghosts, and Cameron’s search for the truth. With all of those themes, I think it would have been easy for the story to have become a complicated mess, but it didn’t. Everything was woven together perfectly and fully resolved by the end. I loved how I was pulled in to the story and was made to feel invested in it through the brilliant writing style of the author. There was one part, about 20% in to the book, where I was forced to put my kindle down (Hey! It was bedtime and I wanted to be able to sleep!) but other than that I found myself flying through the pages to discover more about Jacky’s story, and how things would work out for Cameron and his mum, especially when Cameron made that HUGE mistake.
The Dogs is aimed at a 12+ audience and, having read it, I would definitely agree with that. My oldest son is 9 and, although he is a fantastic reader, I don’t think he would fully appreciate and comprehend everything this story has to offer, just yet. And that’s not even taking in to account how creepy The Dogs is!
P.S. I believe in you, Jacky!