I took part in another Darkroom Bookstagram Tour recently, for this stunning YA novel: D.O.G.S. by M. A. Bennett – and I enjoyed it so much I thought I’d do a fuller review over here as well.
You may remember I read S.T.A.G.S quite some time ago after picking it up at YALC. It’s a YA thriller set in the English countryside, delving into the mystery of the upper-crust, secret societies, and the lure and appeal of money, with Hunger Games-esque stakes thrown in. I loved it!
I got VERY excited when I realised it was the start of a series and not a standalone. If there had actually been any dogs nearby they’d probably have all run to me because my squeaking was so high-pitched.⠀
D.O.G.S. picked straight up from where S.T.A.G.S. ended – despite it being quite a while since I finished the first book, I was straight back in there and desperate to read on.
Greer and the other Medievals are now in their last year of Sixth Form and their A-Levels (known as Probitiones at STAGS) are fast approaching. The drama of the previous term has set Greer back and she really needs to step up her grades if she wants to make it to Oxford University.
One of her subjects is Drama and she needs to put on a play for her practical examination – but being STAGS there are rules about what productions she can choose. It can be nothing Savange (the STAGS term for anything modern or technological) so Greer is left trawling through the school collections of Medevial dramas looking for something that excites her.
Then, just as she’s resigned to doing the four-millionth version of something by Shakespeare, the delicate, handwritten pages of the first act of Ben Jonson’s long lost play The Isle Of Dogs are shoved under her bedroom door.
But as she begins to direct the drama that hasn’t touched a stage for 400 years, the events of the last term start to haunt her. It’s like the ghosts of the past are still up and walking, and as each individual act of the play is delivered in secret Greer realises she is going to have to go back to the one place she swore she’d never set foot in again – the de Warlencourt family’s stately house, Longcross.
Well paced throughout, the slow build of tension was brilliant and kept me constantly on the edge of my seat – I love the fact that knowing who to trust in these stories is almost impossible and that the allure of the rich life of the upper-crust is so tantalising even when it is fraught with danger.
I loved M. A. Bennett’s imagining of The Isle Of Dogs – it felt authentically Medieval and ‘dangerous’ enough to have been burned and banned. The mirror imaging between the play and the action in the story was clever and subtle and ramped up the tension several levels.
The only problem was… it finished and book 3 isn’t out yet (obviously, we’ve only just got this one!) – I NEED TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT? AND WAS THAT REALLY *redacted*?? AND WHAT SIDE IS *redacted* ON?? AND AND AND AND AND!
Ahem, yes. I possibly enjoyed D.O.G.S. even more than S.T.A.G.S. – if you haven’t picked this series up yet, off you go!
I recieved a copy of D.O.G.S. and related promotional items as part of the Instagram Tour. Many thanks to Hot Key Books, M. A. Bennett and Darkroom Tours for this opportunity.
I bought S.T.A.G.S. myself and got one of the badges at YALC as well.