THE CATSWOLD PORTAL by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

THE CATSWOLD PORTAL

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Longish first novel about a magical world where cats change to people and back again, from a veteran children's author. In 1957 San Francisco, successful painter Braden West mourns the recent death of his wife, Alice. He has an important show coming up but is too depressed to work. Meanwhile, he's mysteriously drawn, as was his wife, to a vivid sculpture of cats carved into the door of his house--a sculpture that turns out to be the portal into the cat world, through which he is drawn. But the bulk of the story is given over to 17-year-old Melissa, a farm girl and then a scullery maid, whose real heritage as the ``Queen of faerie'' has been hidden from her through black magic. So off she goes on a perilous, not very original quest. As in fairy tale, there's a wicked queen, who at one point turns Melissa into a tiny calico cat. West joins Melissa in their quest, and they fall in love, a subplot with all the variety of a genre romance. And, of course, West has found his Alice again, more or less. Murphy is often lyrical, but she leans too heavily on the conventions laid down by C.S. Lewis, Anne McCaffrey, and Andre Norton. The most interesting writing here is in fact the cat lore, which Murphy seems to know everything there is to know about and which she associates with what might be called the archetypal female. The interweaving between real and fantasy worlds is well done; the implied notion, intriguing if arguable, is that women are like cats inside--cool, independent, and a bit mystical. Murphy needs to leave her mentors behind, and the love story's a trifle soggy. But, still, she's a writer to watch.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-451-45146-5
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: ROC/Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1992




MORE BY SHIRLEY ROUSSEAU MURPHY

MysteryCAT CHASE THE MOON by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
MysteryCAT BEARING GIFTS by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
MysteryCAT COMING HOME by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

IndieSunborn Rising by Aaron Safronoff
by Aaron Safronoff
IndieWORD WORLD by Vincent H. Ivory
by Vincent H. Ivory