I loved the idea of a novel written from a dog’s POV but wasn’t sure how well it could be done. Spencer Quinn nails it in Woof. The story is told from the perspective of Bowser, a mutt adopted by Birdie and her Grammy as a belated birthday gift for Birdie. Bowser has had a rough life, but being a dog, he doesn’t dwell on it. As he puts it, his mind doesn’t go backwards. He’s also very smell-focused, as you’d expect from a dog. He faithfully reports on human conversations, even when he admittedly doesn’t necessarily understand them, and he falls asleep when things get dull (from his POV). Still, he tells us enough for us to grasp what’s going on (better than he does) and play along at solving the mystery.
Bowser himself isn’t much concerned with the mystery, except in how it impacts his new human, Birdie Gaux. He views things on instinct, emotion, and smell. He loves Birdie almost immediately and his mind quickly moves from wanting freedom to run about to wanting to stick close to this “off the charts” kid. He picks up on feelings so even when Grammy is talking mean, he knows she’s got a good heart and that she cares. He’s dead on about who is trustworthy and who isn’t, even when he doesn’t quite understand the concepts. His way of looking at the world is delightful, from his thoughts on the importance of having a tail (“It helps to have a tail to tell you when a good idea comes along.”) to his response on a particular idiom (“Quiet as mice? You heard that one from humans. Didn’t they know mice were in fact kind of noisy?”). In Bowser, Quinn has created a unique and fun protagonist, with a charming view of the world. I hope we’ll have many more Bowser and Birdie stories to enjoy! I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.