This book starts with a bang, literally. Pirate Emer Morrissey stands on a beach, cutting out the eye of the Frenchman who has murdered her boyfriend. Having performed this ritual, and hidden their treasure, Emer collapses beside the body of her beloved. All at once, she hears a shot, and fires one of her own. Fatally wounded, the last thing she sees and hears is the Frenchman’s lover cursing her to live 100 lives as the dog she is. Emer’s thoughts for the next three hundred years are those of dogs, as she is reborn again and again… until finally the curse runs its course and she is born as Saffron, a modern teenager with the memories of a bloodthirsty pirate, 100 lives as a dog, and an obsession to find the treasure buried on a Jamaican beach 300 years before. All Saffron/Emer has to do is wait until she is 18 and buy a plane ticket.
The Dust of 100 Dogs is original and interesting. It flips back and forth between Emer’s story, growing up in war-torn Ireland, and Saffron’s life a genius (how else would a five-year-old know world history?) growing up in a poor, dysfunctional American family. There is a lot here, and the story keeps you glued to the book. The mix of adventure and family story is interesting, but be warned: both Emer and Saffron have difficult, violent lives.