Young gray kitten Tag lives an easy housebound life with his ``dulls'' (people) until he's tempted to dash outside, where, distracted by a magpie, a fox, and a mysterious old one-eyed black cat named Majicou, he gets lost and must adopt the precarious life of a stray on east London's hard streets. There is, of course, a purpose to all this: Tag's task, so Majicou says, is to find the king and queen of cats and bring them to Tintagel before the spring equinox. Majicou—he's the caretaker of the wild roads, ancient energy channels used by animals to travel in space and time, and composed of the souls, or ghosts, of cats—warns Tag of the evil Alchemist (King's hint that he's really Isaac Newton, thoroughly nasty though he may have been, is hard to swallow) who's trying to gain control of the roads through magic, selective breeding, and by horrible experiments on cats. Tag soon discovers the King, Ragnar, and the Queen, Pertelot Fitzwilliam, but loses them after the Alchemist makes a magical grab for Pertelot (she's key to his plans). So, with his helpers, the magpie One for Sorrow, the fox Loves a Dustbin, Mousebreath the cockney cat, Sealink the New England calico, and poor, mad Cy, who has a spark plug implanted in her head, courtesy of the Alchemist, Tag must head for a showdown at Tintagel in Cornwall. Though in places uncomfortably reminiscent of Paul Gallico's classic Jennie, a debut with tingling ideas, respectable characters, rousing adventures, and well-versed cat lore; pity the plot makes little or no sense. Still, definitely deserving a look by fantasy-ailurophiles.
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