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Posted & filed under Children's Book Reviews

Fifteen-year-old Cameron Weaver has spent most of his life running, and he isn’t entirely sure why. After leaving their current home in the middle of the night – again – Cameron and his mother wind up in the poky little town of Wolf Hollow, where they rent an affordable (meaning derelict) farmhouse in the country.

The farm has its own tragic history and Cameron is determined to uncover it. A ghostly child, Jackie, appears to Cameron and leaves clues about a dysfunctional family that bears a striking resemblance to Cameron’s own. As the sightings morph into conversations and eventually nightmares, Cameron’s relationship with Jackie triggers memories of his own troubled history, but he is uncertain how to interpret them. Was his father abusive? Did Cameron’s mother kidnap him or is she protecting him from a dangerous situation? Soon, Cameron’s obsession becomes apparent to those around him, and everyone begins to wonder if he’s going mad. In Allan Stratton’s YA horror, The Dogs, Cameron doesn’t know if he can trust anyone – including himself.

Stratton weaves an intricate tale of love, loyalty, and deception, then blurs the lines between fact and fiction to underscore the mental chaos that Cameron’s unstable upbringing has created. A dark and disturbing narrative of family dysfunction, The Dogsis at its core a coming of age tale that describes the mental anguish of revisiting past abuse. Stratton plays with reader expectations by reappropriating horror clichés and anchoring them in a nuanced plot with multi-dimentional characters. A small town horror with heart, The Dogs pokes relentlessly into the blackest corners of the psyche to reveal the secrets families keep for those they love.

  • The Dogs

    By Allan Stratton, Published by Scholastic Canada Ltd.
    • ISBN 13: 978-1-4431-2830-8
Karen Doerksen
Karen Doerksen lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta with her husband and four children. She works for the Edmonton Public Library, and holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Alberta.