Friday, November 25, 2022

Short Book Reviews: A Cat in London Tower

Thunderpaws and the Tower of London
(Nature's Claw Series, Book 1), by Ben Housden (High Gate Press)

When Teufel the cat (who hates his nickname, “Thunderpaws”) moves into the Tower of London with his chaplain owner, he is less than thrilled. The trip itself, including being sedated and transported, was bad enough, but now he finds the new rules insufferable: no doing his business on the lawn, no wandering at all hours, and no chasing the sacred ravens. Teufel is a Cat of Attitude, snark being primary among them, and he is not about to play nicely or restrain his innate Cat Nature. In his attempts to exercise his feline right to kill small prey and anything with wings, he encounters a mystical mouse, a couple of ghostly cats, and the deceased spirits of humans who have died in the Tower. Queen Anne, Lady Jane Grey, and Sir Walter Raleigh are bad enough, with Anne planning to destroy the internet. But when King Richard III and Guy Fawkes hatch a plot to take over London (and the world), Teufel is drawn in to a maze of dark schemes and darker magic. As it turns out, he’s not nearly as savvy as he thinks he is.

Among the many delights of the book are Teufel’s sarcastic voice, details about the ghosts, and the army of lady rats led by a giant rat named Elvis. I wish there had been more exploration of how Teufel changes with his misadventures, especially those that were his own fault. It was a good thing I read the book on my Kindle, because quite a number of references that would have been obvious to Londoners escaped this Californian at first.

My only real issue, however, was the extended epilogue. It’s one thing to set up a sequel, but to go on at length detracts from the satisfaction of defeating the agents of evil and then taking a break. Sequels, as opposed to books in a single multi-volume story arc, run the risk of being episodic, especially when the beginning of the next is inserted into the end of the first, thereby making it not a true end at all.

Despite my quibble about the epilog, this book should have special appeal to cat fanciers (and perhaps Londoners). The illustrations are particularly wonderful.


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