This trilogy opener introduces readers to the Slovenian seaside town of Piran and its colony of feral cats.
Felicia, a short-haired black cat, is queen of the titular wild cats; the colony roams the streets of picturesque, medieval Piran with all the authority of, well, a bunch of cats, aided by the imperfectly described feline power of Magikat. But there is trouble for the wild cats, in the forms of thuggish youth Fisko and his German shepherd, Thor, and a rat general who is drilling his troops preparatory to a takeover. Two separate storylines emerge, as fluffy angora Bezya is catnapped by Fisko, and General Rat prepares for his assault, before converging almost arbitrarily at the end. That should be action aplenty for a slight, 120-page book, but the narrative chops it up and intersperses it with mannered musings on cat psychology, oddly placed forays into back story and loving descriptions of Piran. The avuncular narrator can be quite funny (when Fisko’s sister rescues Bezya from his clutches, the storyteller remarks: “Call it a sense of common decency, if you will. Or even if you won’t”), but just as often the voice bobbles, distracting readers from what plot there is. Chistè’s full-color illustrations add grace notes, recalling animated films in their line and composition.
If Young can get his voice and pacing under control, subsequent volumes might be rather a lot of fun. (Fantasy. 8-12)