Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Review: The Dust of 100 Dogs by A. S. King

Tags: YA, pirates, adventure, Ireland, Jamaica

Rating: 3 out of 5


Emer Morrisey has not had an easy childhood. Growing up in poor rural Ireland during the Cromwell invasion, Emer loses her family at a young age and is forced to live with her cruel uncle’s family. Her only friend is Seanie, a neighborhood boy. When her uncle forces her to marry an old Parisian, Emer escapes to the Caribbean, where she eventually ends up a successful pirate.

A series of coincidences brings Emer and Seanie back together again. Just as they plan to retire from piracy and spend the rest of their lives together, a hated figure from Emer’s past tears their plans apart. Emer is cursed to live a hundred lives as a dog before finally becoming a human again.
Now, in the late twentieth century, Emer has been reborn as Saffron Adams, a girl from a run-down, messed-up family in Pennsylvania. And she’s really determined to get back to Jamaica and reclaim the treasure that only she knows is buried there…


THE DUST OF 100 DOGS has a frightfully original concept that takes a while to get into, but once you do, look out! You will get caught up in Saffron and Emer’s story. I particularly liked reading about Emer’s life, the chapters of which are interspersed in between Saffron’s story and that of Fred Livingstone, a slightly crazy rich pervert who lives in a glass mansion in Jamaica. Sound a little random? Well, yes, but his story is tied in with Saffron’s, and I found it remarkable how A. S. King paralleled Emer and Saffron’s adventures, 300 years apart.

While the idea was great, I couldn’t really get into the way it was executed. Saffron fell flat for me, although this is sadly understandable, since she is more a vessel for Emer’s desires. Saffron’s family was depressingly run-down, flat, and unsympathetic, and the episodes that occurred during Emer’s childhood felt too prolonged for me. Issues such as homosexual urges and rape were brought up in an uncomfortable and incomplete manner that begged explanation…which we don’t get.

I’m ambivalent as to how I feel about THE DUST OF 100 DOGS, but nevertheless it is still a highly original and adventurous book that many will enjoy.

Similar Authors
Lisa McMann (Wake)

Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Cover discussion: 5 out of 5 - ...but can we just say that I LOVE this cover?? Who knew how much three primary colors could express? The simple almost-symbolism of it marks this as one of my favorite covers ever.


  1. I think this is the first review I saw of the novel getting 3/5 :O I have a copy but still have not gotten around to it. ><

  2. Isn't the cover just amazing! It took me a bit to get it, but it's still cool.

    I thought Emer's life was so much more interesting than Saffron who wasn't even excited for her first date! :(

  3. I agree with you on the cover thing. Haven't read this book yet but I will soon.

  4. I agree about the cover and that Emer's story was much more interesting.

  5. This was one of my favorite books of the year, so obviously it is a 5/5 for me. So I was surprised when my friend who shares my taste gave it back only half read and said she just couldn't get into it. She cited Saffron's flat character as a reason.

  6. It's interesting how this book can spark so many different reactions, isn't it? That was one of the reasons why I wanted to put up this review, to see what people think of it. I know it received rad reviews from almost everyone, so I was curious about the, ahem, dissenters. *hides face*

  7. Emer's story was lovely, and I think I might have had trouble with this book if it weren't for the ending, that tied the two plots together.

    It did drag a bit. And I did skim to get to Emer faster. But the ending sealed it for me.


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