A picaresque fantasy focuses on a California cat who becomes human.
Forty-year-old Sherman Oaks resident Jennie Livingston’s troubles begin at the outset of Barrera’s fiction debut when she decides to visit trendy shaman-to-the-stars Carlos and hire him to guide her through a vision quest (he’s done this often, including a couple of times for Charlie Sheen). Like many pet owners who live alone, Jennie first discusses the whole matter with her cat, a purebred Chartreux named Antoinette, who, as usual with her species, is both haughty and indifferent to the scheme. But then Carlos’ supernatural efforts result in Antoinette becoming a pretty young human named Kitty, who has a French accent, a fan-crush on Scarlett O’Hara, and a penchant for getting involved with what “humans spend all their time thinking about” (readers are informed that it isn’t food). Kitty is subtle and manipulative—perfectly, if inadvertently, described when one character understatedly says cats are “pretty good at figuring out how to get what they want.” What Kitty wants is to squash Jennie’s new romance with Hollywood screenwriter Casey Chandler and match her instead with Carlos himself, but these plans get complicated when yet more of the shaman’s magic turns Casey’s Old English Sheepdog Shep into a sexy young Englishman who immediately fascinates Kitty. Then Jennie’s ex-boyfriend Mickey Souris kidnaps Kitty with the plan of changing her back into a cat and using her as the basis of a lucrative breeding operation, forcing the tale’s heroes to band together in an attempt to save her. Barrera invests all of this silliness with both a winningly light touch and an undercurrent of sexual sizzle that never feels forced (the novel’s full-color photos representing its various cast members add a playful touch). His funny and racy plot is target-rich with the zanier aspects of Hollywood subculture (Jennie tells Carlos that her “vision animal turned out to be an old tortoise named Amy. I felt like Alice in Wonderland talking to her”). But his satire is never sharp enough to break the spell of his humor. Although his characters may talk about the works of Shakespeare and Jane Austen, they remain comfortably one-dimensional.
A lighthearted sexual satire that gives a whole new meaning to the words “cat lover” and “dog lover.”