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Fabulous Children’s Fantasy Fiction - Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones

Updated on November 14, 2015

Dog's Body, Dog's Face!

Creative Commons licence
Creative Commons licence | Source

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Do your kids adore books packed with magic, fantasy, trolls, witches, and everything creepy, fantastical and amazing? (Or perhaps, as our adult reading habits seem to have undergone a sea-change since the advent of Harry Potter, I should ask – do you?)

If you have, and you haven’t yet heard of the books of Diana Wynne Jones, then don’t hesitate and don’t delay – go out and grab yourself a few of these treats today! Wynne Jones is probably my favourite out of all the magic and fantasy authors currently writing. And for my money, Dogsbody is one of her most original and amazing books.

What is the book about? It starts off in a courtroom, where Sirius – the personification of a celestial body known as the Dog Star – is being put on trial. We learn that he is accused of killing another of his peers, which is an extremely serious offence. He might reasonably be expected to be sentenced to death for it – but instead, the judges sentence him to life.

Life, that is, but a very different life to the godlike, powerful one he is used to. His sentence of life imprisonment is of a canine nature: he finds himself reborn as a puppy – and a mongrel, unsatisfactory puppy at that – in the home of a dog breeder on Earth. A salutary experience and something of a shock to the system!

Rejected by the professional dog breeder, Sirius is taken in by a family and their niece, Katherine. But his sentence is not so simple as merely waiting out his earthbound canine life. He also has a task to perform, and it will by no means be easy.

The weapon used to kill the victim at the centre of Sirius's case is a highly dangerous one – called a Zoi. And not only has it been used in a homicidal act, but doing so has let it loose on Earth. It could be found at any time by a denizen of Earth, and havoc could well ensue. But living as a dog – with a limited canine intellect and comprehension, and only indistinct memories of his previous existence – how on Earth is Sirius supposed to locate it?

He does obtain some help, in the form of Earth's Sun – whose name, it turns out, is Sol – and certain of Earth's children. Does he locate the Zoi and track down the true killer? He certainly has some obstacles and powerful enemies along the way – but that means you just have to keep reading to the end to find out!


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