This is the third of Betsy Haynes’ Bone Chillers I’ve read (I’ve recapped Beware the Shopping Mall here), and I’m enjoying the series.
But. There’s something a little…different about this one.
You know how Amazon offers you that list of “people who bought this also bought” suggestions? Well, what it gave me for this book was so unexpected that at first I assumed it was a mistake.
Then I read the book, and I don’t think it was a mistake. I think this book has a following among readers who aren’t all here for the “children’s horror” aspect.
So I screencapped the “also bought” suggestions for your amusement, but it’s going behind a cut because the suggestions aren’t entirely safe for work. (Also, there are spoilers beyond this point.)
Looking at those suggestions, I can’t help speculating that this book might have been a formative experience for some people.
And I mean, the book itself IS about a girl’s transformation into a cute puppy. And she DOES then get adopted by the boy from her class who teases her all the time, and living in his house she starts to see he’s not all that bad, and he hand feeds her, and…yeah, I’m creeping myself out too. I’ll stop talking about this now.
So. Yes. MOVING SWIFTLY ON. Little Pet Shop of Horrors is a cute non-scary horror story about Cassie, a girl who desperately wants a dog (but is allergic to them).
She and her best friend, gymnastics enthusiast Suki Chen, discover a creepy little pet shop. You can leave an order for the precise kind of pet you want, and they’ll find it for you. Suki’s not all that interested, but she does suggest to Cassie that the place might be able to find her a hypo-allergenic dog.
On the way home they encounter a pack of revolting boys from their school. The boys call them “Pukey Suki” and “Hopalong Cassidy,” and one of them, David Ferrante, tries to scare them with his new pet: a tarantula.
Later he’s looking for another pet, because he sat on the tarantula by accident and killed it. That’s awful enough on its own but it’s even worse once you realize what’s up with the pet shop.
Mr. Willard, the pet shop owner, gives Cassie something to drink, and she passes out and wakes up as a young golden retriever. David and his horrible parents show up (the father is more or less abusive throughout this), and David adopts her.
The rest of the book is Cassie’s life as a dog. She can’t communicate with humans, and eventually her efforts (constant barking and an escape attempt) get her returned to the pet store. There Mr. Willard announces that he’s going to kill her.
She evades him, and when he steps outside for help she knocks something over, drinks some of it, and turns back into a human. She’s naked, of course. She finds clothes (in a large pile of discarded clothes, presumably from other kids who’ve been transformed) and escapes through a window.
At home she convinces her parents she can’t remember where she’s been for days. They have good news for her: they’ve got her a dog! It’s a Pekingese.
Cassie bent double with laughter. “You’re so funny! You remind me of my best friend, Suki.”
Suddenly the little dog stopped running. It looked up at Cassie with pleading eyes. Then without warning it turned a perfect back flip.
Cassie stopped cold and stared at the dog.
“Suki!?” (loc 1100)
And that’s how it ends.