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If you have any fear of dogs, whether it is a mere residual uneasiness or a deep residing phobia, DOGS by Nancy Kress is probably not the book for you. In fact, this book just might send you over the edge from phobia into needing sedation. From the opening scene, Kress launches the reader into a town terrorized by a plague that has turned your fun loving Fido into Cujo on steroids. With each and every page, a new adorable household pet turns on its owner, ripping the throats out of small children and elderly alike.

Honestly, I have never had a fear of dogs, but more of a mere annoyance at the ones that insist on licking me like a Tootsie Pop or jumping on me repeatedly. However, after reading DOGS, I can’t help but look at these animals sideways with a new caution. It’s an unnerving sensation not at all unlike the experience I had when first reading Stephen King’s CUJO many years ago. It took me several years to get over that experience and I have a feeling I will not feel completely at ease with dogs for a while to come.

Indeed, DOGS is a terrifying horror thriller cunningly crafted with a cinematic-like expertise that is unrelenting and merciless. Kress, the author of over twenty novels and the recipient of several awards including the Nebula, Hugo Sturgeon and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards, has formatted her newest novel with a screenplay feel to it, the chapters short and to the point intermixed with “Interim” pieces which speak to an outside perspective on the origination of the plague within the town. DOGS is a fast read and thoroughly enjoyable, especially if you are a fan of not only horror but FBI-styled thrillers.

The only aspect of DOGS which I was not able to fully embrace was the fact that, due to the breakneck speed of the plot development, one does not have the time to truly get to know the characters on a deep and emotional level. The bond, at least for me, is never fully developed. However, perhaps this is a good thing for the carnage that happens, page after page, would be then even more traumatic to the reader. DOGS is not entirely focused on the mere savage killings by man’s best friend. In the midst of all of the snarling, blood-thirsty canines is a sharp and savvy FBI conspiracy story which unfolds as quickly as the rest of the plague outbreak occurs. The suspicion and fear is tangible throughout the book and keeps the reader on the edge of their chair, dying to know just what the outcome will be.

To reiterate, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it to any horror or crime thriller enthusiast. But be forewarned, you may not be able to snuggle up next to furry little Teddy later that night and you may be questioning just what he is thinking when you wake up to find him staring at you in the middle of the night from the foot of the bed. More information about Nancy Kress and her impressive catalog of work can be found online at DOGS is available online and in bookstores nationwide.

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