Dogsbody

Author: Diana Wynne JonesDogsbody

My rating: 5 of 5

The great luminary who inhabited and ruled over the dog star Sirius is brought to trial for killing another luminary and for loosing a Zoi, an object of great power and importance. And thus, he is sentenced to life on the planet where the Zoi fell as one of the creatures native to that world. In short, he was born on Earth as a dog. His one hope of being restored to his rightful place is to find the lost Zoi, but being a dog with an animal’s limited mental capacity (even for such a highly intelligent dog as he), Sirius doesn’t even remember what the Zoi is, so how is he supposed to find it? Moreover, he finds himself overwhelmed by the inborn dog-ness of himself–smells, impulses, limitations. Not to mention the ever-growing affection and loyalty he feels for the human girl Kathleen who took him in as a half-drowned puppy. Sometimes the situation seems hopeless, but Sirius finds help in some of the most unlikely places.

Diana Wynne Jones. Enough said. Dogsbody is a multiple-time-over re-read, and I have found it deeply enjoyable every time. Like every one of Jones’ books, it is a masterpiece of originality that crafts and weaves ideas no one else would consider, yet makes them entirely credible and extremely interesting. This book in particular is really neat in that it is both this huge fantasy novel about these powerful heavenly beings, yet it is also, at heart, a dog story as well. Her descriptions of Sirius and his experiences growing up as a puppy and truly magnificent even if taken only as an animal story–all the emotions, reactions, and frustrations of a pet in a home where he and his mistress are not truly welcome. The interactions between Sirius and the cats are fantastic as well. And then the connections between Sirius’ story and Kathleen’s are so sweet and touching and sad and beautiful all at once sometimes. Dogsbody is an unexpected and wonderful fantasy that I would recommend to basically everyone; it’s one of my favorites.

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