Plague is certainly a timely subject, and Marlow's choice to present it from a non-human perspective creates a welcome, fascinating distance. The many cats of the city have charming and distinct personalities, from the brash Eusebius, to the inquisitive twins, and the wise and powerful Innocent. However, the cast is extensive, and the short length of the novel precludes much in-depth characterization. The human interactions are informative but often lack narrative momentum. Still, the theme is engaging, and the unspoken comparisons with today's world will ring true with readers: on one hand, the humans seem to be taking the plague seriously, but on the other, many turn to wild rumors of miracle cures, desperately seek scapegoats, or distrust actual sources of medicine.
Although Marlow’s plot is slow to get started, it eventually transforms into a tense and dramatic journey through the city, powered by the danger and sacrifice inherent in tales of epic quests. Ultimately, the story will appeal more to fans of historical fiction than to animal enthusiasts, but cat lovers will enjoy the lore of Le Chat and the eccentric relations between the humans and felines.
Takeaway: This intriguing story of cats facing the Black Death presents well-researched history and an engaging quest.
Great for fans of: Tad Williams’s Tailchaser's Song, Richard Adams's Watership Down.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A