Mary Louise aka Malou works at a no-kill animal shelter. Her friend, Jeremy, works at the county shelter, which typically euthanizes pets within three days of their arrival. Occasionally Jeremy will send animals he thinks are good candidates for adoption to Malou when they have room in the shelter for them. He tells her he's sending over a beautiful Golden Retriever, but when the dog arrives, all Malou sees is a ragged, injured, and ancient-looking dog that is nothing like her friend described. From certain angles though, she can see bits of the Golden Retriever the dog is supposed to be. Then the dog begins to communicate with Malou psychically. The dog, whose name is Goneril, says she lost her master somewhere on the highway, and must find him quickly. He is a witch who has been keeping her alive using magic, and if he doesn't renew her spells within three days, she will die. Convinced that her owner has abandoned the dog, Malou sets out to find another witch who can help Goneril before her time is up.
Stray Magic is a really cute story about a stray dog that is brought into an animal shelter. Mary Louise aka Malou, the girl who works there, was told by her friend that it is a Golden Retriever, but what she sees is a ragged, ancient-looking dog, who can mysteriously communicate with her psychically. The dog tells Malou that she's lost her master, and must find him within three days or she will die, because he has been keeping her alive far beyond her typical life-expectancy through the use of magic. This kind of reminded me of Ned's dog, Digby, on the TV show, Pushing Daisies, where Ned couldn't bear to part with Digby so every time he died, Ned resurrected him with his magic.
I really enjoyed this short story for a number of reasons. First of all, I thought it was a really fun, creative premise. I love animals, so the animal theme only added to my enjoyment. The author manages to highlight the plight of homeless and abandoned animals as well. Malou works for a no-kill shelter, while her friend Jeremy works for the county shelter which euthanizes animals within three days of their arrival. The brevity of this time frame is metaphorically played out through the use of our doggie protagonist, Goneril, only having three days left to renew the spells that are keeping her alive. This places her and Malou in a race against time to find a witch who can help her. I also really liked Goneril's loyalty to her master. Even though Malou fully believes the man abandoned his dog like so many other pet owners do, especially when they get old, Goneril is completely devoted to him. This served to show what a beautiful thing the love of a dog can be. Overall, I had a really good time reading Stray Magic. I think any kids (or adults too) who love animals will really enjoy it. Since I had never read anything by Diana Peterfreund before, it has also put her on my authors to watch list. Stray Magic can be found in the anthology Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron.
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