(Thank you ReadersFirst and Hot Key Books for an ARC of this book– sorry it took so long!)
I’ve been excited about a sequel to ‘STAGS’ since I first read it a couple of years ago. The first book ends on quite a dramatic cliffhanger and I was always desperate to find out what happened next.
In DOGS, Greer is finally coming to terms with what happened at Longcross last year. She’s finally realising that she can continue at STAGS and use its prestige to get into Oxford, leaving the dangerous memories of Longcross behind and going on to better things. The fact that she needs to get an impressive grade in Drama and an anonymous source is feeding her the manuscript for a centuries-lost play to direct only seems to add to that.
That is, until she begins to unravel the connection between this long-lost play and the prestigious Order that almost got her killed the year before. And maybe, that this play will help her to unravel something even darker that is happening at Longcross.
This book isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I thought about a sequel for STAGS. It covers everything I would have expected after the revelations about the Order of the Stag, but following the story through an Elizabethan play is not the way I saw the story progressing. Despite this, I found the book to be an incredibly captivating thriller, tying up the loose ends of STAGS and leaving more for a potential series conclusion.
The characters didn’t seem as clear-cut for me as in the first book, and it came across like nobody, even my favourite characters from STAGS, could be trusted. At the same time, it remains confusing for much of the novel who the real villains could be also. M.A. Bennett did a great job of making me question everything I liked about certain characters from the first book, only to circle them back around for redemption as the story progressed.
I really enjoyed this book and will undoubtedly read Book 3 if and when it is released. It’s incredibly impressive that the author took a long-lost play and weaved it so effectively into her own story about privilege and I can’t help but think that M.A. Bennett has even more impressive works to come. I’d certainly recommend this book and, obviously, STAGS if you really wanted to get into the story.
P.S: I believe all copies of this book contain the bonus material at the end and I found this in itself really interesting! There are various pages of information, both fictitious and factual, about STAGS and ‘The Isle of Dogs’ that made the book last just a tiny bit longer and even answered some of the more random questions this book might have left you with.
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