Almost as soon as Brodie arrives in a beautifully realized dog heaven, he remembers that there is something he must do.
It takes him a little longer to recall the specifics of this imperative. It’s his boy. His boy, Aiden, the one who provided him with the beloved ball game “Away. And Back,” needs him desperately. The boy is in terrible danger. Exuberant dog’s dog Tuck, “all run, all wag, all toothy smile,” reveals that there is a way to go back to Aiden’s world, although only as a spirit and only with the understanding that going there imperils an animal’s soul. Tuck, with unfinished business of his own, bravely accompanies Brodie back to the world of the living, where the pair, along with an edgy ghost of a cat, Patsy (she didn’t pick her name), join forces against a pack of vicious, driven hellhounds that want nothing more than to consume the good dogs’ souls. Their unending pursuit adds urgency to Brodie’s quest for Aiden even as the source of the white boy’s peril is gradually, terrifyingly revealed. Readers learn early on there is a violent force in Aiden’s life, though details of exactly how close and exactly how violent are meted out carefully, controlling the pacing and ramping up the tension. The third-person narrator keeps the plot moving swiftly forward while providing a dog’s-eye interpretation of events and a running commentary on the revered nature of good dogs.
Action-packed, highly suspenseful, and deeply moving. Perfect. (Fiction. 10-14)