Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint, illustrated by Charles Vess

This was originally a short story, but has been extended to a full-length fantasy novel. I feel this was a little, well, self-indulgent perhaps. It definitely has an audience, and De Lint and Vess both have lots of fans, but I think it made a much better novella than a novel.

The basic story: Lillian is bitten by a poisonous snake and the friendly cats of the forest save her by transforming her to a kitten. When she decides she wants to be human again, despite all warnings, she discovers that magic always has consequences. Now she has to start her journey all over again and pass through many magical adventures and meet many strange people before she is offered another chance to make things right and save the people she loves.

This book expands the original novella, from what I remember of reading it, to include a lot more different magical and animal characters. It also expands the setting, which feels very Appalachian, although I don't think a specific geographical location is ever mentioned. The story is episodic and has a strong fairytale feel. Of course, Vess's art, even in roughs in the ARC, is beautiful and De Lint's prose is equally lush and entrancing, if a bit repetitive for those who have read a lot of his work.

Verdict: While I wouldn't expect this to get picked up on its own, it would make a fun bedtime story for an older child and kids who like fairy tales will enjoy the different magical episodes. An additional purchase in my opinion though.

ISBN: 9780316053570; Published 2013 by Little Brown; ARC provided at ALA (yes, a while ago - I'm cleaning out my backlog)

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