Mother Daughter Book Reviews
In this quirky and entertaining middle grade book, we are introduced to a cast of characters, loosely based on Christian beliefs, including Pop whose children Mr. Lucius, Gaybreeal, and Mik Hail among others have been banished to Earth to live among and help the mortals. Thankfully, the Day of Judgment is upon them, and the children will soon be called back to live in heaven with their Pop (if they passed their test, that is). However, Gay is determined to do everything in her power to prevent her brother, Mr. Lucius from making contact with his father.
To help in his quest to locate and communicate with his father, Mr. Lucius creates two “hell hounds” from a lock of Pop’s hair so they could sniff him out as necessary. Unfortunately, Gay casts a spell on the two hounds (Delta and Gamma) making them lazy and disobedient. Enter Barny Pedrotter, a troubled 9th grade boy whom the hounds choose as their alpha. It is up to Barny to regain control of the hounds and help Mr. Lucius regain entry into heaven.
Heaven and Hound: Rise of the Alpha features an assortment of colorful and memorable characters including mortals such as Barny, his father James, and Barny’s schoolmates and immortals such as Mr. Lucius, Gay, and Pop. The story is told from a number of perspectives, primarily Barny, James, and Gay. At first I found this confusing as I could not see where the story was going, but as the threads became interwoven, I came to appreciate that the individual perspectives were necessary to fully understand the story. I think children will be able to relate to Barny’s character in particular and I hope that in future stories, the focus is maintained on him.
The story features many humorous moments as well as more tense moments between the characters. The hounds, Delta and Gamma, were a delightful wild card and could either be vicious and destructive or big and lovable pushovers at the hands of their alpha, Barny. I do have to mention that these hounds were not typical dogs. That is, one or the other dogs were described as having unusual features such as scales, four eyes, a thorny tail, and a spiky ridge on the spine. I was having a hard time imagining what the dogs looked like and unfortunately, the cover image shows quite normal dogs!
One of the things that I really enjoyed in the story was the mentioning of certain movies, books, and other items from pop culture such as a BlackBerry, the TV series Downtown Abbey, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, the World Cup, the Manchester United football club for example. The author also cleverly weaved in her other middle grade book, The Silver Strand throughout the story, although in Heaven and Hound it was referred to as a comic book.
My Bottom Line:
Heaven and Hound: Rise of the Alpha is a fun-filled story featuring a quirky cast of colorful characters, an original and compelling plot, as well as many humorous moments and surprising twists. I can’t wait to see where the author goes next with this series and I recommend this book to children ages 8 to 13 looking for a quick and humorous read.