Terrier by Tamora Pierce

When I truly enjoy a book, I like to reread it frequently to the point of memorizing the entire plot or even whole passages word for word. Despite knowing very well how a story will go, each time is a new experience, with new revelations and emotions. Terrier by Tamora Pierce is such a book.

I first discovered Pierce’s works while browsing in the cramped young adults section of my middle school’s library. I picked up a battered, dog-eared volume and was captivated by the cover image – a woman in knight’s armor perched atop a rearing warhorse. Ever since that day, I nurtured a long swashbuckling affair with Pierce’s fantastic country called Tortall.

Terrier is one of Pierce’s most recent books, part of a trilogy named Provost’s Dog. Terrier was a bit of a departure from the style of Pierce’s previous works, straying away from the nobility and traditional sorcery and focusing on the gritty commoner side of Tortall. It features a young “mot,” or woman, named Beka Cooper on her journey to becoming the city’s best Dog, or police officer. The series’s use of rich slang enhances the prose, pulling you into Beka’s world.

It’s a light feminist fantasy novel with a kick-ass girl and a supernatural feline companion. The book also offers a twist on the traditional magic seen in most fantasy genres and grants characters the ability to talk to ghosts through pigeons and small dust spinners.

Although I read this book for the first time in middle school, I find that I can still relate to the issues the protagonist faces. Beka is branching out into the “real world” and learning how to be independent, just like I am doing in college. She is usually shy but her passion for her work allows her to overcome her shyness and accomplish what others think impossible. She also keeps a regular journal, and the story is told through her journal entries.

Beka’s dedication to journaling was especially significant for me because I was once a prolific journaler, but I have fallen out of practice in the past few years. Terrier inspired me to write in my old diary again and reconnect with my writing. In spite of the fact that this is a young adult fantasy story, I recommend even just leafing through its light-hearted pages. Who knows? You might end up remembering something you used to love as a child.

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