Recommended for ages 10-16
Billy Brahms has luck, all right – it’s all bad. He’s an accident looking for a place to happen, and an easy target for bullies. His parents don’t know what to do with him, but they don’t seem to try too hard to connect with him, either. When he’s struck by a car and risks losing his leg, they’re all at the end of their respective ropes. One day, though, Billy wakes up to discover a cat has adopted him – he just shows up at Billy’ bedside. His mother puts up a fuss, but the neighborhood cat lady manages to talk her into letting Billy and the cat have some time together to bond, saying it will be good for poor Billy, who’s stuck in a cast all summer.
That’s when the dreams start. He’s talking to cats, he’s hearing talk of Watchers, Shadows, and the Enemy that Awakens. He’s been given a mission, a mission that will remove the curse he seems to have hanging over him – will he finally be able to be a “normal” kid? Billy knows his parents will never believe him if he tells them that he’s communicating with his cat, and they’ll never let him go anywhere by himself, especially with that cast on his leg. He’s got to figure out how to break this curse, and he turns to the local veterinarian’s daughter for help.
The Cat’s Maw is one of those books that’s better read when you can talk about it with other readers. There’s a lot going on, and you need time to sit, read, and work things out to really appreciate the book. It’s a narrative that builds, never really giving anything away – rather, it gives you little peeks here and there, little glimpses, building toa tense finale that leaves you waiting for the next book. And there will be one; this is the first in the Shadowland Saga by Burgess.
Billy is a sympathetic kid. His parents are fairly awful, even though you get the feeling that they don’t want to be. He’s a bully magnet. Even his friend, the vet’s daughter, is happiest when she’s bossing him around. You want to see things work for Billy, and if a link to a cat is the key to this, let’s go there.
The ending left me with more questions than answers, which means that I need to read it one more time, and that I need the second book in the series to come out soon.