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The Dust of 100 Dogs

The Dust of 100 Dogs - A.S. King Over the last few months I have come to be a huge fan of author A.S. King. Please Ignore Vera Dietz was one of my favorite reads of last year and following that experience I was quick to add all of her books to my TBR and pick them up. My second foray into her writing was The Dust of 100 Dogs and I can definitely say that this one threw me for a loop. This novel is unlike anything I have ever read and is incredibly ambitious. I think King pulled off something so out there really well even though it had my scratching my head through much of it.The Dust of 100 Dogs is the tale of Emer’s many lives. We get her story from the 1600’s when she is a girl who has lost her parents and is left to live with her terrible abusive uncle. Once she is of age her uncle sells her off to an Englishman for marriage, uprooting her from the man that she has come to love. Emer, being the strong headed girl that she is though, doesn’t lie down and take it, she escapes and sets to the high seas to become one of the most notorious pirates ever. This part of the story had me feeling very disjointed in the beginning, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the historical element and I really didn’t like Emer as a child. She was whiney and she didn’t listen to anyone. What’s funny though is that the things that I hated about young Emer, were the things that endeared me to and made me connect with adult Emer. She was strong and did what no women at that time could have ever achieved. She was respected amongst the men of her ship and she still managed to get a little pleasing in private.Emer’s story doesn’t have a happy ending though and at the height of her pillaging she is murdered and cursed to live 100 lives as a dog. I should point out here that the story doesn’t go in order, we get alternating chapters from Emer’s story, little lessons that she learned in her lives as dogs and then we also get Saffron’s story, which I will get to later. So the little lessons that we get from her life as a dog are definitely interesting but are not for the faint of heart. She doesn’t live the happiest of puppy lives and goes through some unimaginable things but they always lead to a pretty good lesson.The final story we get in this novel is of Saffron. Saffron is who Emer is when she is once again born as a human. She’s a 17-year-old girl growing up with an immense amount of pressure on her shoulders. I really liked the family dynamic of Saffron’s story. Her parents were terrible; her mother a drunk and her father had pretty much no back bone and they put all of their faith in Saffron becoming something and bringing the family out of its hole. I felt stressed reading her story, dealing with the pressure from her parents and struggling to come to terms with her brother’s drug addiction felt like a lot for a 17 year old girl. Not to mention that all Saffron wanted to do was to turn 18 and return to the scene of her death to unearth the treasure she had buried there.There is a lot going on in this novel, as you can tell, but I think King made it work. It is a daring tale told in and incredibly unique way and I really appreciated that. While this one isn’t garnering a 5 start from me it did solidify my love for her work and I will continue to plow through her novels.