From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—Pirates, reincarnation, dogs, teenage angst, a romance that spans the centuries, magic, treasure—all are wrapped up inside a fun Goth cover that belies the very adult story within. Emer Morrisey, the youthful scourge of the South Seas in the 17th century, has lived through 100 lifetimes as a dog, and now shares the body of 20th-century teen Saffron Adams. Along with fantasies about torturing and murdering most everyone around her, Saffron's sole ambition is to escape her pathetic family and find the treasure she knows lies buried somewhere in Jamaica. The book is not for the faint of heart or stomach, with painful scenes of animal and human abuse, attempted rape, battles, and murder. Particularly difficult is the character of Fred Livingston, the reincarnation of the French captain who killed Emer's lover, and who is quite obviously crazy. His very disturbed mental state is shown through his truly evil actions toward his dog and the voices that taunt him day and night. There will be teens who find Emer/Saffron's story much to their taste, but this is definitely not a book for a wide audience.—Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library
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Saffron Adams is a typical teenager, longing to escape her dreadful family and upbringing into a sunnier future. What sets her apart, however, is that she actually has the means to such a future via the buried treasure she left on an island 300 years prior. As Emer Morrisey, she was the scourge of the Caribbean but was then cursed to live the life of 100 dogs. Interludes explore what she learned during her dog lives until she is reborn, memories intact, as a present-day girl. The dual stories of Emer and Saffron progress in parallel, but as the pirate tale gains momentum, the modern strand meanders; readers will likely flash through Saffron’s teenage doldrums to return to Emer’s vainglorious exploits. But don’t mistake this for a romanticized romp on the high seas; the sex is occasionally graphic and disturbing, and the violence is particularly gruesome. Readers will be frustrated by a few plot holes and contrivances, but for the most part this is an undeniably original book that overreaches, yes, but only as a byproduct of its ambition. Grades 10-12. --Ian Chipman