Title: In a Cat’s Eye
Publisher: Pole to Pole Publishing
Editors: Kelly A. Harmon and Vonnie Winslow Crist
Pages: 243 pp
Titled after the English proverb, “In a cat’s eye, all things belong to cats,” this short story anthology features cats of all kinds. There are natural cats, supernatural cats, robot cats, and protagonist cats, sidekick cats, even a Nemesis cat. The fifteen short stories, each by a different author, unite around the cat theme, but are otherwise diverse in genre, style, and characters.
The first story, “A Pinch of Chaos” by Christine Lucas, is set in ancient Egypt. An Egyptian High Priest mourns for his cat. His servant sets out to help him recover by bringing back the cat. The story speaks of Ma’at, the Balance. It brings us to a temple of Bast, revealing a deep understanding of Egypt: its culture, its trees and herbs, its pagan religion, magic, and worldview. Most of all, this story reveals the impact of feline friendship on the human heart.
The second story is a steampunk fantasy, mixing magic and airships. Like the first story, it is well written, and has action, feeling, and a delightful ending. Unlike the first story, the cat is a speaking role. He walks on two legs. What he really is, I shall not spoil.
The third story is hard science fiction. It’s not the only hard sf tale in this book, and each one is excellent. This anthology includes a reprint of an Arthur Conan Doyle mystery, “The Brazilian Cat.” It’s not an in-the-style-of, it’s actually by Doyle, the Sherlock Holmes writer. Of particular interest to pagan readers, there’s a story of an indigenous American girl whose coming of age entwines her with the sacred jaguar.
There were two stories I didn’t care for: one that was told in second person and the final story. The last story had very poetic language, but there was less about the cat character than in other stories. The villain was a recognizable mythological figure that heathen readers might not want to see as a villain. Those were just two stories out of the fifteen, though, and the nature of anthologies with multiple authors in multiple genres is that not all of the stories will be to everyone’s taste.
I found the story of the scientist investigating a unique ecosystem to be very compelling. Even though the cat creatures in that story were anything but cute or cuddly, the way the mystery of the biological relationship between the cats and the fruit and the people was gradually revealed so perfectly captured the spirit of scientific discovery that it was a wonderful read.
This anthology has all kinds of stories in it, but they are all delightfully full of cats. It was a genuine pleasure to read. I recommend it for all cat lovers. Some stories are told from the perspective of a cat, some from a human point of view, but all the stories get cats right. Two paws up.
[Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners and other books. She has been a gythia since 1989, published Berserkrgangr Magazine, is a godspouse of Odin and his brothers, and currently manages the Asatru Facebook Forum and writes the Pagansquare blog Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen. She lives with her mom and her black cat in Henderson, Nevada, where she ran for public office in 2010 and 2013, and is active in her local dance, arts, and pagan communities.]