Cat and magic fans, unite!

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The cats are not what they seem.

Duncan’s feline mother always knew he was different. She had seen his newborn kitten eyes flash gold, just as hers did when she had visions of the future. He seems to have inherited the ancient magic of Sagira, a cat that possessed powers feared by both cats and humans. Now, cats conceal their intelligence and ability to talk from humans, although it was not always this way. In Sagira’s time and place, 900 B.C. in Egypt, cats and humans had respected one another and communicated openly. The mutual respect lasted only so long after humans discovered Sagira and her abilities to burst into flames, bend minds, see the future, become invisible and move at incredible speed. Obsessed with Sagira, the Egyptians began to worship her and all cats; but she denied their affections and kept to herself. The worship of cats soon turned to hate and fear, which led to massive feline slaughter by humans. Cats slowly learned to live peacefully with humans by pretending to act as house pets. Before Sagira died, she left behind a book of prophecies as well as five kittens, each possessing one of Sagira’s powers—that is, until Duncan. After being adopted by a young human couple and forced to live with a hostile, older cat named Whiski, Duncan discovers that he has inherited all five of Sagira’s powers. In an effort to learn how to control his powers and keep his new family safe, Duncan and Whiski set out to find help. But will the mysterious feral cats that protect Sagira’s book help Duncan find the answers before the hateful purebreds kill him? The story is incredibly imaginative and quirky. Employing real-life references, Holley gives the illusion that this story isn’t as outlandish as it seems. She has inspired explanations for why black cats are known as bad luck, and she playfully hints at the hidden intelligence of house cats. The pop-culture references—kittens watch Star Trek—are both comical and bizarre. She even manages to include a cult of nasty purebred cats that act as a hate group. Unabashedly goofy, the well-written, action-packed story doesn’t end here; it’s only the first of a three part series.

Cat and magic fans, unite!

Pub Date: May 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477475232

Page Count: 280

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012


From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013


From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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