Title: Darkness Rising
Author: Meryl Yourish
Series: Catmage Chronicles #1
When the Council of Catmages is brutally murdered, Goldeneyes is sent to look for one of the powerful elders who has gone missing: her grandmother, Nafshi. But in addition to locating her kin, she’s got an additional task of locating the one human who has been prophesied to be someone important to the Catmages. Goldeneyes would never dream of harming a human, but to communicate with one goes against her nature. Still, if she must she’ll follow orders . . .
Andy never expected the cat that was hanging around his house would start talking to him. Or that her problems and his were about to intersect. Andy’s just trying to get through school without the local bully making his life miserable. But soon things get a lot weirder . . .
This was excellent. The Catmages stole the show, with each of them so very much a cat (“Dratted instinct,” as Goldeneyes would say) yet also so much more. Goldeneyes is proud, aloof, powerful, and completely out of her depth. Lestan (aka Fluffypants) is an easy favorite, with his carefree cheerfulness and willingness to goof around. And Patches, adorable Patches, has a great big heart but is definitely not right in the head.
But although the Catmages function practically like adults for the story, Andy and his circle of friends and enemies is also important. I liked that Andy could only help in small ways. He might be in the prophecy, but none of the Catmages have much idea what that says about him, and for the time being they’re content to function in their own skills and strengths and delegate Andy to smaller tasks. Still, the fact that the prophecy even exists, and the extent of human involvement on the enemy side, keeps Andy’s contributions important, and likely to be even more so in future stories.
I liked the way Andy’s Jewish roots work into the story. It provides some interesting bits of history and culture, while at the same time not focusing overly much on what makes him different. And it gives him something that Goldeneyes doesn’t have, something he can teach her about.
This is also a story about bullying. It was interesting to see multiple layers of this: between cats, between kids, between adults. And none of them offer a pat answer, but rather display the profound effects of generational abuse. I do hope at least some of those unhealthy relationships resolve. I also liked Becca’s continued insistence that Andy not just shut up and take it (because, among other things, this is a behavior pattern that does nothing to discourage the bullying and does result in the bully never getting into trouble).
The first book is currently 99c, and if even that’s too much for a blind buy, the sample is available, and that was more than enough to get me hooked. If you like cats, or kid’s books, this is a very good one to try. I rate this book Highly Recommended.