The Familiars (The Familiars #1)

Title: The Familiars

Author: Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson

Aldwyn is an alley cat whose luck is running thin. When he sneaks into a pet shop to escape a bounty hunter, he accidentally gets adopted by a young wizard named Jack, to be Jack’s familiar. It’s a better life than being on the streets, but it doesn’t last long. Soon Jack is kidnapped, and Aldwyn and the other two familiars, a blue jay and a tree frog, must band together to rescue them.

The overall idea is cute, and fairly well executed. This is an adventure story from the point of view of the wizard’s familiars. Aldwyn isn’t sure how to fit in, as the know-it-all blue jay, Skylar, frequently exposes his ignorance about familiar things. Dense Gilbert the frog has no clue Aldwyn is just a stray, and he’s more willing to be Aldwyn’s friend. But in the journey they’re on together, street cat smarts is just as necessary as animal magic.

But Gilbert would have worked much better as another species. The fact that he’s a frog made a number of things unlikely to downright ludicrous, ranging from him keeping up with a cat and a bird over long distances, to him being able to walk through snow (and even swim in freezing water). He’s not even an ordinary frog, he’s a tropical species that ought to keel over from that much cold. And why does the cat think about digging a hole through the ice to swim under a wall, and not the frog (other than the fact that Aldwyn is several times more intelligent than Gilbert)? Aldwyn rolling in soot to become a grey cat is a great disguise, but covering a frog with feathers to pretend he’s a chicken? I get that it’s humorous, but it’s also so far out that no sane human would see such a creature and not find it suspicious enough to investigate on principle.

So overall, although I liked the characters, and there’s certainly a foundation laid here for things which won’t be revealed until future books, I don’t know that I care to continue. I rate this book Neutral.


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