Brief cat-and-ghost yarn from the author of Tamsin (1999), etc. When wannabe dancer and successful writer Sam Kagan dies suddenly of a heart attack, his lifelong friend, small-time actor Jake Holtz, is devastated. At the funeral Jake meets Emilia Rossi, Sam’s significant other; Emilia, as disbelieving as Jake, is keeping Sam’s arthritic old cat, Millamant. Jake and Emilia compulsively exchange reminiscences of Sam, and meet regularly to grieve and talk—until Millamant the cat begins to dance. Emilia never saw Sam dance, but Jake did, and the dancing cat gives him the shivers. When the cat also talks, it’s clear that Sam’s spirit has somehow entered her. Overjoyed at first, Jake and Emilia, and eventually Sam, discover that they cannot accept this unnaturally prolonged existence: it’s time for Sam to move on.
Okay, perhaps, as one story in a collection, but a dreadfully thin stretch as a stand-alone book—Beagle’s mighty reputation notwithstanding.