Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by S.F. Said & illustrated by Dave McKean

Age Range: 9 - 13

Pub Date: May 13th, 2003
ISBN: 0-385-75019-6
Publisher: David Fickling/Random

A touch of magic realism lends spooky charm to Said’s animal fantasy. Barely out of kittenhood, Varjak Paw is a feline aristocrat—“a pure-bred Mesopotamian Blue”—but his odd eyes and restless nature don’t fit in with his pampered family. The threat from a sinister Gentleman and his uncanny black cats inspires Varjak to emulate his mythic ancestor Jalal Paw and escape their cloistered life, but not before hearing tantalizing hints about “the Way,” the all-but-forgotten martial discipline of his breed. Now Varjak must face the unknown dangers of the city, aided only by a pair of streetwise alley cats and the tutelage of the Yoda-like Jalal in his dreams. But how can he master the Way if he cannot master himself? Said has created an appealing hero in the naïve but determined Varjak. His world has a dreamlike quality, both concretely familiar and creepily off-kilter, that’s effectively reinforced by vivid ink sketches. Although the suspenseful atmosphere slides rather abruptly into surreal horror at the climax, several dangling plotlines will encourage readers to hope for the return of Varjak and his endearing companions. (Fantasy. 9-13)