THE DOGS by Allan Stratton- Excerpt and GiveawayThe Dogs by Allan Stratton
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on September 1st 2015
Pages: 240
Genres: Young Adult, Thrillers & Suspense
Also by this author: The Dogs

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Cameron and his mom have been on the run for five years. His father is hunting them. At least, that’s what Cameron’s been told.

When they settle in an isolated farmhouse, Cameron starts to see and hear things that aren’t possible. Soon he’s questioning everything he thought he knew and even his sanity.

It’s about ghosts and terrifying danger and going mad all at once. I didn’t know what was real and what was imagined until the very last page. I loved it!’ Melvin Burgess

Brilliant, page-turning and eerie. Had me guessing to the very end’ Joseph Delaney

Reading time 6 mins

I really enjoyed this story about a boy named Cameron who is having a hard time fitting in a small town. His situation is made even worse by the fact that his Mother is terrified his Father will find out where they are. He is sure his mother is just crazy, but maybe Cameron is, too. He keeps seeing things and hearing things that can’t actually be there. This haunting tale was hard to put down. You can see my full review here. I am really excited to offer you the chance to win one of 2 copies of this book. Scroll down for giveaway details.

Advance Reviews for The Dogs by Allan Stratton

“Stratton masterfully constructs a creepy gothic setting…A monstrous, stalking father, unhinging nightmares, a ghostly boy, wild dogs, and a moldy basement add creepy deliciousness to a murder mystery and tale of a boy who, in trying to solve a mystery, may just discover what a loving family might be. An engrossing blend of murder mystery and family story.” –Kirkus STARRED Review

“A real page-turner…

[The Dogs] stayed with me for days, author Allan Stratton having created an unsettled aura the likes of which Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King routinely built into their work, too… Stratton’s depiction of setting and characters is masterful, and his ability to create tension and keep readers on edge is equally strong.” – Montreal Gazette

Excerpt

I go up to my bedroom. It’s at the top of the living-­room stairs, next to a small bathroom and near the big room over the kitchen. That’s the room Mom thought I’d pick, and I would have, except for the trapdoor in the ceiling. It’s sealed up with nails and paint. When I saw it, I asked Mom what she thought was up there.“An attic.”

“Yeah, but what’s in it?” I pictured a dried-­up body, half eaten by mice. I mean, who seals up an empty attic? Anyway, that’s why I didn’t choose the big room. If I don’t see the hatch, it’s easier not to think about what’s on the other side.

The bedroom I picked came with an oak desk, a wooden chair, a night table with a lamp, and a metal-­frame bed. The mattress is new, unlike the wallpaper, which is stained and peeling along the seams near the window. Under the peels are layers of older wallpaper, one with little orange canaries on it.

The window over my desk is the one good thing about my room. Looking out, I can see the barn with the fields all around and the woods in the distance. At night, the stars and the glow of the porch-­lamp light up bits of the barn and the first row of cornstalks.

I start to do my homework. Pretty soon, though, I’m looking out the window, watching the stars come out and trying to forget my life. I wonder who all are staring up at the moon right now. Are they wondering the same thing?

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch something moving by the barn. When I look, it disappears. Wait. There it is again at the cornfield. Some movement, some thing.

I count to twenty. Nothing. I relax. Then—­did that stalk move? I turn off my light so whatever’s out there can’t see in.

It’s probably just a breeze.

Or Mr. Sinclair. Or Cody and his gang.

Don’t be nuts. If it’s anything, it’s an animal. A coyote or a dog.

The dogs. I close my curtains. If I don’t look out, whatever’s there will go away. But I can’t not look. I sneak a peek. Nothing. Wait. By the barn. Is that a boy?

I blink. The boy is gone.

My eyes scan the barn. There’s a missing board up in the loft area. The more I stare, the more I think I see the boy staring back at me from the shadows behind the hole. He’s maybe ten, very pale, and he’s wearing one of those old Davy Crockett hats with the raccoon tail hanging from the back. Are those freckles on his cheeks?

Don’t be crazy. The barn’s too far away to see stuff like that.

The face disappears. I stare till I see double. The face swims back into view.

This is too weird. I close my eyes and try to clear my head by thinking about the bus and the Cheerios between Benjie’s teeth. When I open my eyes, everything’s normal. There’s no face. Nothing. Just the night.

And that’s how it stays.

I close my curtains, get ready for bed, and crawl under the covers. I hate the way I scare myself. It’s always the same and it’s always stupid. And the scared-­er I get, the more I talk to myself, which is even stupider.

Besides, even if there was a boy in the barn, what’s scary about that? Maybe he just likes exploring places like I do. Still, it’s weird he’s on our property, especially so late. I wonder where he lives.

Who says he lives anywhere? Who says he’s real? What parents let a kid that young wander around at night?

Mom knocks on my door. “Cameron?”

“Yeah?”

“May I come in?”

“Sure.”

I know she wants to give me a good-­night hug, but I told her to stop it when I was twelve, so she just stands in the doorway. “I know you didn’t mean anything. You’ve had a hard day. I’m sorry I overreacted.”

I hate it when she’s all understanding. It makes me feel like an even bigger jerk. “That’s okay. Mom, I really am sorry.”

“I know.” She pauses. “’Night, then. I love you.”

I want to say the l-­word back, but I feel dumb, so I just say,
“You too.”

Mom closes the door. I go to turn off my lamp and get flashes of Mr. Sinclair and the dogs and the kid I maybe saw in the barn. What’s out there in the dark, circling the house when we’re asleep? What could be out there?

I leave the light on.

 

About Allan Stratton

Allan Stratton is the internationally bestselling and awarded author of Chanda's Secrets, which was made into the Cannes Festival hit Life, Above All. Awards include the Printz Honour Book, two Junior Library Guild selections (US), two Canadian Library Association Best Book Awards, inclusion on the inaugural Pearson Foundation/Writers' Trust Read-for-Your-School list, and a Times Book of the Week. His work has been published in fifteen countries.

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