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Captivating cross between fairytale and contemporary romance.

A cat-loving woman with magical powers lives atop a southwestern mesa, where orchards and running streams are all part of a mirage she is able to enter and leave at will. She shares her lofty domain with 50 felines that talk to her (and sometimes sing in 50-part disharmony). Her alter ego and confidante is a tortoiseshell cat that warns her of an intruder in this imaginary paradise: a handsome, dark-haired young man named Angelo di Vita, who travels with a black dog by the name of Oso. The other cats are willing to ingratiate themselves with Angelo, who tempts them with succulent treats, but they keep an indignant distance from Oso, though the dog means them no harm. The CatWoman is sure she knew Angelo in one of her previous lives, perhaps in all of them. Like her, he’s half-cat. He’s been her friend and brother, but in this life (her fifth) he’ll become her lover and bring her back to the real world she has happily abandoned. Stoned to death as the daughter of a village witch in one of her previous incarnations, she still avoids people in this one. Yet Angelo persuades her to climb down the mesa’s steep slopes, and he brings her before the highly eccentric members of a school board made up of unreconstructed hippies and other counterculture types. She introduces herself as Kat O’Malley and begins to teach her teenaged students in her own way, skipping humankind’s endless wars and political upheavals in favor of a highly personal approach to history. Then overbearing Layira, the pyramid-dwelling, self-appointed goddess of a New Age commune, interferes—with disastrous results: her son and others stone another boy, who later dies when he takes a dare. Sadder but wiser, Kat and Angelo move on to greener pastures and a new life together.

Odd but enjoyable tale, by a former producer of a children’s storytelling radio program in New Mexico.

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 2002
ISBN: 0-425-18618-0
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Berkley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2002