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The Dogs Hardcover – September 1, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Cameron and his mother have been on the run from Cameron's father for years. His mother's terror is palpable, but Cameron doesn't quite remember what his dad did to cause all this fear. That's not to say that the teen isn't haunted—when their latest move lands them in a creepy old farmhouse, Cameron's nightmares, irritable behavior, and his burgeoning friendship with a dead child who used to live on the farm point to either a sensitivity to the supernatural or a descent into mental illness. As the protagonist becomes more interested in the property's grisly past, he turns a blind eye to the terror and trauma of his own past, to a dangerous end. Cameron's earnest, straightforward narration takes some of the energy out of what should be, detail by detail, a satisfying horror story. It's only through Cameron's chilling phone conversations with his estranged father that readers will get that electric charge. The tone and structure of the novel indicate a younger readership, but the specifics of the story are fairly grim. VERDICT Psychological family horror for those not quite ready for Daniel Kraus's Scowler (Delacorte, 2013).—Beth McIntyre, Madison Public Library, WI
"Stratton masterfully constructs a creepy gothic setting, using italicized interior monologue to show Cameron's mind at odds with himself, and readers will soon suspect that Cameron may well be unhinged as they try to discern what is real and what is the product of Cameron's 'thinking like a lunatic.' A monstrous, stalking father, unhinging nightmares, a ghostly boy, wild dogs, and a moldy basement add creepy deliciousness to a murder mystery and tale of a boy who, in trying to solve a mystery, may just discover what a loving family might be. An engrossing blend of murder mystery and family story." - Kirkus, starred review
"This novel derives its horror from Hitchcockian suspense rather than torture and bloodshed, with the steady revelations of the old house's gruesome mysteries paralleling Cameron's increasing endangerment. This will be an easy sell to teens on the prowl for a done-in-a-night thriller." - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A fast-paced psychological thriller...Readers will find the supernatural insinuations and elements terrifying; wrapped up in a mystery that the boy must solve, they will also begin to hope that they are real-as they are preferable to the possibility that Cameron is losing his mind. A shocking ending and an unexpected visit from the titular beasts make this novel a compelling choice, and one that reluctant readers will also find appealing." - School Library Journal
"The Dogs is a creepy thriller that explores the effects of trauma, paranoia, and fear... with the eerie supernatural element, it will keep pages turning well into the night. It is a great book to read on a storm fall night with the wind howling and the branches tapping at your window. A great thriller for MG and older." - Young Adult Book Central
"An Agatha Christie mystery novel on cocaine" - SLJ Teen Newsletter
"A real page-turner... [The Dogs] stayed with me for days, author Allan Stratton having created an unsettled aura the likes of which Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King routinely built into their work, too... Stratton's depiction of setting and characters is masterful, and his ability to create tension and keep readers on edge is equally strong.
" - Montreal Gazette
"It is increasingly rare to find genuine, convincing narratives that have us looking over our shoulders. The Dogs is such a narrative... At every point in the story there are two possible interpretations of the events: one based on accepting the supernatural and one based on realistic possibility... The architecture of these intertwining plots is strong and graceful... What would it be like if the most frightening thing in your world lay at the heart of your own family? Stratton imagines this horror fully and convincingly.
" - Quill and Quire
"The Dogs allows the reader to use their imagination. Like Fuzzy Mud, by Louis Sachar, it's a great book to use in a classroom or a book discussion group. " - By Hook Or By Book
"There are secrets that nobody wants to talk about and nightmares about things in the past. It's hard to tell what is real and what is in Cameron's imagination. The unexpected ending makes this sure to be a favorite with mystery readers. Recommended.
" - School Library Connection
"In this gripping psychological thriller, the reader wonders whether the tenuous grip Cameron seems to have on reality is because of his own past or if there is truth to the visions and voices the teen perceives. As his increasingly odd behavior begins to alarm his mother, Cameron wonders if he can trust his own mind. This thrilling page-turner builds to a dramatic climax which interweaves the personal story Cameron has managed to suppress, as well as the sad, violent story of the McTavish family" - VOYA Magazine
Top customer reviews
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The Dogs is a ghost story, but it's also a story about domestic abuse and the aftermath of it. Cameron is affected by the life he's lived on the run and by things he remembers from his past. He's grown up with a mom who is paranoid that his father is going to catch up to them, and it shows. Cameron begins seeing the ghost of the boy named Jacky who lived in the house, but disappeared back in the 60s. He is convinced that Jacky and his mother were victims of domestic abuse and he sets out to prove it. But is Jacky's ghost really there or is Cameron just imagining him? You are left wondering a lot whether Cameron is really seeing and talking to a ghost or whether he is just mentally ill because of the trauma he's experienced in his life.
I liked Cameron as a character. His behavior wasn't always likable. He said some mean, sarcastic things to his mom, and kind of blamed her for their situation at times. He also wasn't very nice to the one boy at school who befriended him, but it fit the fact that he was a teen boy who was confused and hurting emotionally, so I think he was very realistically drawn.
I picked this book up because it looked like a good creepy, thriller with ghosts added to the mix. While it's not all that creepy, I did like it a lot and I thought it packed a good emotional punch.
A fantastic mystery/horror for middle graders! Non-stop excitement. Filled with hidden clues and threats real and imagined, this is a book you'll stay up all night to finish--with all of the lights on.
Post on Amazon as PCB, please.
While I know this is a horror story, nothing about it was really frightening to me. It made for a good mystery, had a lot of tense moments, but never really had me scared. In part that's probably because I'm outside of the age group this seems targeted for but for any horror fan, young or old, it may fall a little flat.
Most recent customer reviews
The Dogs was a super creepy read that I guarantee will spook you, especially if you read it at night.Read more