A novel by Diana Wynne Jones
. The guiding spirit of the star Sirius is framed for a murder and sentenced to reincarnation on Earth in the form of a dog, unless he can come up with the murder weapon (which also happens to be a very powerful MacGuffin
Tropes featured include:
- A Girl And Her X: Kathleen and Sirius - at least from her perspective.
- Abusive Parents: Duffy - not actually parents; Kathleen is staying with her Aunt and Uncle.
- Amplified Animal Aptitude: Sirius can understand alot more english than most animals. Justified since he's not really a dog.
- Baleful Polymorph: Sirius as a dog.
- Bitter Sweet Ending: See Death by Newbery Medal, below. Sirius achieves his goals and he finds a better home for Kathleen, but the two are separated, possibly forever.
- Burning with Anger: Sirius does this spectacularly as a star, and his eyes do it as a dog.
- Cats Are Mean: Starts off this way, but they do mellow out part way through the story.
- Cool Old Lady: Mrs. Smith
- Death by Newbery Medal: Sirius (again, from Kathleen's perspective—he actually becomes a star again, but he leaves behind his dog-body as a corpse and it's clear that she thinks of him as dead).
- Evil Matriarch: Duffy
- Friend to All Living Things: Kathleen and Mrs. Smith.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kathleen's cousins.
- MacGuffin: The Zoi.
- Orphan's Ordeal: Kathleen's story, especially after her father dies because of his escape from prison.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Sol with Sirius' Companion.
- Taking the Heat: Sirius furiously denies having killed the victim and thrown the Zoi at the witness. But he won't provide an alternate story because doing so would implicate his Companion.
- Tantrum Throwing: The Castor luminary claims Sirius did this (and aimed to kill) with the Zoi when he discovered Sirius with the body of the young Orion luminary. The problem with this: A Zoi has to be in someone's hands for him to kill with it, and it was Sirius' Companion who threw it as Sirius tried to wrestle it out of her hands.
- The Troubles: Kathleen's father is an imprisoned member of the IRA.
- The Wild Hunt: Sirius in his dog incarnation turns out to be related to them. As Sirius's littermates, so are most of the other dog characters.