A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher
Review by Elizabeth Lang, Public Services
For decades, most people have been unable to bear children. The global population has plummeted- it is believed that there are only a few thousand people left worldwide- and there are no cities, no nations, no governments, and no communication. The few remaining people know virtually nothing about what caused The Gelding, which seems to have affected some animals as well as humans.
Siblings Griz, Ferg, and Bar live a quiet life with their parents on an island off the coast of what used to be called Scotland, with their nearest neighbors several islands away. The siblings pass the time growing and catching food, maintaining the household, and pursuing leisure activities. Griz particularly likes reading books scavenged from ruins on the surrounding islands. Sadly, Griz’s mom spends her days sitting in a chair, uncommunicative, because she has never recovered from a head injury sustained in a fall from a cliff when Griz was little.
One day a smiling stranger named Brand comes to the island, piloting a boat with red sails, bearing stories of the empty world and artifacts from Before. He woos the family with exotic goods from faraway places and, in the dark of night, he steals Griz’s beloved dog Jess and flees across the ocean. Upon waking and discovering the theft, Griz impulsively follows the thief into parts unknown in order to get Jess back.
In the quest to rescue Jess, Griz travels far beyond the known lands, sees things he’s only read about in books from Before, and encounters many skeletons among the rubble of civilization. A mysterious foreigner named John Dark, who is very much alive and likely dangerous, travels alongside Griz until misfortune forces them down different paths.
Griz is an engaging narrator exploring a largely empty post-apocalyptic landscape. The action is well-paced and engaging, the characters are unique, and the conclusion is fitting and satisfying. At the start of the book, the author requests your real-world silence regarding the things you will discover along with Griz, because the story is chock-full of surprises and twists. As such, I’ve been careful to not give away any secrets in this review!