Doggem: A Tale of ToyDogs and Dark Deeds.
John F. Leonard
“All the kids adore Doggem, the class cuddly toy. They each get to take him home. Hug him and love him and show him their world outside of school. All they have to do in return is write his diary.
George Gould is going to introduce Doggem to a rather strange family.
It’s worth noting, both the stuffed toy and little boy are far from ordinary”
Funnily enough, not long before John F. Leonard passed me this book to read and review, myself and a colleague were chatting about her kids bringing the class toy home, and that they must take it places and fill in its diary. I had never heard of this before, it wasn’t something we did when I was at school. I love the idea of it, it’s great for teaching kids to look after things, helps them develop their writing, and also stimulates their creativity. It’s also, as the book mentions, a valuable insight for the teachers, letting them see a part of their students they wouldn’t normally. There is a lot that can be learnt from such a simple fun task.
This is a great short story, with inspiration taken from the author’s own personal life when his son brought the class cuddly toy home.
It’s a very subtle tale, a view from the eyes of Doggem, as he watches the horror unfold before him.
“Black crows speak in Jordemain Wood, Jordemain Wood, Jordemain Wood.
Black crows speak in Jordemain Wood.
Don’t dare listen.”
It’s the summer holidays, and it’s now George Gould’s turn to look after Doggem. It’s a big responsibility, six weeks of adventures with Doggem, it’s a lifetime to a young child. George’s parents take him to visit his grandmother, who has a cottage near the Jordemain Wood. George’s mother, Cath Gould, has a difficult relationship with her mother. She left home early, causing her to be cut off from the family wealth. Now she leads a resentful life, with a plan to regain what she believes should be hers.
Cath forces her husband Tom into helping her kill off her mother, Joan Demdike. She has a plan to poison her food, with ingredients which few know about and are hard to find anywhere else. Joan on the other hand has plans of her own. She is smarter than her materialistic daughter. Cath is blinded by her desires for designer clothes and fancy cars. She completely misses that her mother has actually poisoned her and Tom. Joan has plans for George, Joan sees him as “A body and mind that will welcome the return of the Lord between the Walls and herald the dawn of a new age”. After George’s parents are dead, Joan will raise George and prepare him for his future role.
I love this story, it conveys so much in so few pages. It’s a work of art in my opinion. The undertones of the dangers of being too materialistic really resonate. Especially at this time of year (coming up to Xmas), you see so many who are concerned only with what they can get. It really angers me to hear people be so ungrateful. I’ve myself overheard at work comments such as “I can’t believe that’s all she got me, and £10 book, that’s all I’m worth”. £10 could have been all that that person had. And if so, they gave everything. We are breeding an ungrateful culture. We need to focus more on what’s in front of us and less on what we can acquire. Be grateful for life’s pleasures. Be thankful for what we have rather than thinking about what we want.
I would love to see an expansion of this story. We only witnessed a brief glimpse into the dark underworld life of Joan. We were hinted that she belongs to a group, possibly a coven of sorts? Maybe a cult? I’m not sure. I would love to find out what happens to George. A possible future story I think.
I for one am extremely grateful that I was given the opportunity to read this wonderful story.
A whole hearted and much deserved 5/5 from me.
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)