My dear bookish friends,
If you like imaginative and deep children’s stories filled with magic and fantasy, you should really keep on reading, because I might just have the book for you! Big thank you to author Emily Garrett for sending me an ecopy (this did not influence my rating) of her middle grade debut, The Village Dogs of Pucklechuck, and also for her patience (my review took quite some time, but I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this gem!).
Mog is a young half-Giant and an outcast in the quaint town of Pucklechuck. He longs to fit in with the villagers, but can’t shake his past. One day, he witnesses something shocking. A villager slays an innocent dog and Mog’s world changes immediately. He is swept up into a hair-raising adventure, as the village people turn against the dogs. Mog is the animals’ only hope – without him the Prophecy cannot be realised. Will he help them? Mystical, fast-paced and entertaining, The Village Dogs of Pucklechuck: Book One should not be missed.
Half-giant Mog is an outcast. He grew up with the wolves, now he lives in a hut on the outskirts of the village. Mog doesn’t feel like he belongs with the wolves anymore – he isn’t one of them after all – but he also isn’t one of the villagers. And they don’t accept him as one of them either. So, Mog continues to live on the margins of society, until one day he observes something awful: an innocent dog gets killed, and Mog can’t do anything to stop that from happening. Devastated, he soon gets visited by the wolves he used to live with, and learns of an ancient prophecy. Will Mog be strong enough to help fulfill it?
From just looking at the cover, I have to admit that the story I got wasn’t the story I was expecting. But that doesn’t mean I’m not happy with how it turned out! On the contrary. The Village Dogs of Pucklechuck tells the tale of being an outcast, of what it feels like not to belong, but how important it is to be there and show up and stand up for your values and beliefs – even if you yourself feel like you can’t make a difference.
Mog was a fascinating and unique character. He was faced with hardships and difficulties but didn’t shy away from them – a deep and important theme of the tale, especially for a children’s story (but it should be for any age category or genre, really). It was also interesting that Mog didn’t only grow up with wolves and far away from people, he can also communicate with animals and turns out to be an important part of a prophecy that could change life as he knows it.
Another character I really liked was Malinka – called Moley by everybody – Teades’s maid. She is mostly known for her big mole and not only therefore is a bit of an outcast herself. Her boss is the one who took the innocent dog’s life, and she witnessed the deed herself too. Will Mog and her become friends – and be strong enough to set right the wrongs of the other villagers?
Something that is just my personal opinion but others could think totally differently about that keeps me from giving it the full five stars is the fact that the story revolves around the killing of the poor innocent dog, and even though tough things like that – dead relatives or illnesses or questions of identity – are often taken into consideration in children’s books as well, this theme here somehow felt a bit heavier. Maybe I would recommend it for slightly older children so, but it also isn’t all too much, either. I think given the proper guidance, younger middle grade children might enjoy it just as much (I guess it all depends on the child!).
But even so, The Village Dogs of Pucklechuck comes highly recommended – if you enjoy meaningful fantasy stories with outcasts and speaking animals, you will find all of that and more here! Magic, solidarity, power battles, the question of what’s right and wrong – The Village Dogs of Pucklechuck is as deep as middle grade books often are, and therefore can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
4.5 stars from me for this unique and imaginative story that both surprised and captivated me! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨
Thank you all so much for reading, and do let me know if you pick up this book too!