Queens and gentlefloofs,
I am delighted to share with you my first ever book review. I was very intrigued when I discovered a new adventure novel was coming out, which had a cat as the main character. In addition to that, I was drawn to it's stunningly beautiful artwork. When I looked for more information on the book which is named "Thomas Angel and the Clach Na Cait" I discovered it was part two of a series. So of course, I was going to have to get the first book aswell, which is called "Thomas Angel and the Order of the Cataibh"
So, this review is one covering both books by the wonderful Scottish author V.S.Minou. The first "Thomas Angel and the Order of the Cataibh" and the follow up "Thomas Angel and the Clach Na Cait"
They flow seamlessly into one another and I feel that despite the first novel having been out for a while, I have included it for those who are unfamilar with the series. I would also like to give a shout out to my hooman admin, who kindly helped to read the book to me. As most of you will know, turning pages with paws is not an easy task!
With the first book, we are very quickly taken to a late 1800s Edinburgh with a vibrant cast of cats who live their lives the way the hoomans do. These colourful characters have their own houses. They cook, they clean and they work. They dress up in suits and dresses and have their own clubs and organisations. They don't have any hoomans looking after them, that's for sure!
Our main character Tom, is a down on his luck, ginger kitten who spent most of his young life in an orphanage. Poor Tom hasn't had an easy kittenhood but at the beginning of the book, he finally gets out of the orphanage and finds a home to make his own. Despite now living with his best friend Zachariah and Zachariah's loving Aunt Claudia, Tom still feels like an outsider and has a lot of baggage he can't seem to shake but as he makes new friends and family, he begins to feel a bit more at home. Soon, he stops feeling like an outsider when he is invited into the mysterious "Order of the Cataibh", led by the wise old cat Felix and learns shocking things from his roots and family tree to stories of an evil Queen with a sinister agenda.
The mood of the first book quickly changes here when it becomes clear that Tom and his group of feline comrades are faced with great responsibility and have many dangerous adventures ahead of them. The book never lulls. It keeps you hooked and as you would want from any great novel, you go ahead and read another chapter even though you promised you were going to set it down at the previous one.
I have no intention of giving away any spoilers so there is very little else I can say about the story. What I can say however, is that the book is engaging from the very first sentence to the last. The story continually builds layer upon layer and reveals to the reader, secrets and twists that make it impossible to set down. The first book is 269 pages long so it is good for people who are casual readers but written so beautifully that it will satisfy also the more hardened readers. These books are marketed as young teen but I can safely say that my hooman greatly enjoyed the book and he is getting on in the years!
"The power is always within you. Always remember that"
The second book, "Thomas Angel and the Clach Na Cait" picks up exactly where the first left off (what a cliffhanger that was) and we find that poor Tom is right in the thick of it from the get go. As I don't want to give away any spoilers, I can't tell you what is going on as such but what I can say is that book two, kicks things up a gear, in particular for our main feline Tom. Tom discovers things about himself that he never knew before and can tune into his 3rd eye (You know the little "M" shaped fur markings we have above our eyes?) giving him supernatural abilities and access to more than the usual 5 senses.
Unlike most superheroes, where they leave fights and bust ups with barely a hair out of place or a scratch on their face, poor Thomas experiences a lot of pain, suffering and rejection in this book, just as he did in the first. Tom's story is very moving and it is impossible not to feel sorry for him, whilst also rooting for him the whole time. The fate of Edinburgh and of his friends and family, literally lies in Tom's hands.
At the pinnacle of the book, things are at make or break for Tom and all of Edinburgh and then it all just stops and you are left wanting more. You desperately want there to be more pages but there aren't any! We are left once again with one massive cliffhanger, but this time I didn't have another book to continue with. It would be criminal for there not to be a third book in this series.
The second book weighs in at 244 pages and just like the first, the story is extremely engaging, if not more so! It has adventure, love, betrayal and magic. It might be aimed at a younger audience but it also has death, sadness and rejection too. You get very attached to the characters and whilst they are all cats and admittedly that is what first drew me to the book, the story would be equally as worthy if it was any other species. Even if it was dogs, it would make for a good story and I don't say that lightly!
I can honestly say that both myself and my hooman admin are fans of the Thomas Angel series. We are delighted to find out that there will be a third book, making this at least a trilogy and we highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading. It doesn't matter if you are young or old, the story connects with all ages.
One other thing I would like to add is that we found the amalgamation of cat and human qualities to be very endearing. For example, when young Tom and Zachariah get fitted for new suits. Or when the characters "shake paws" as a greeting. Often, they are known to be "pulling each others tails" when they are winding each other up. All these little features and the attention to detail greatly add to the endearing qualities of the books.
If you include my little ankle bean, I have 5 toe beans on each front paw. That's ten toe beans. I rate the Thomas Angel collection 10 toe beans out of 10!.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this review and feel free to drop me any questions you have about it or if you want help purchasing a copy, on my Instagram.
I also have a Q&A coming up with the wonderful author and creator of the Thomas Angel series, V.S Minou, so please keep an eye out for that!
"Two ancient warrior clans. One prophecy. One tenderpawed kitten"
To learn more about V.S Minou please click here or follow her on Instagram @vsminou
Thomas Angel is available online at Amazon UK and Silverwood Books