My thanks to High Gate Press/Victory Editing and NetGalley for a review copy of this book.
Thunderpaws and the Tower of London is an action-packed, imaginative and entertaining fantasy–adventure which takes us into some interesting realms—the past and the future! And what is most fun is that it is narrated in first person by our main character, Teufel or Thunderpaws, a black tom.
As our story opens, Teufel wakes up a bit out of sorts, finding himself in a place which is ‘not home’, and wondering when he will go back. We soon learn that Teufel lives with a vicar and his wife (whom he refers to as Vic and Mrs V), having taken over as church cat (though he denies this) after his mother’s death. Now the Vicar has been appointed Chaplain at a new place, and no ordinary place at that—the Tower of London. Here Teufel begins to explore his new surroundings, making plans to make a meal of the Tower’s ravens, though he finds that the Governor is opposed to his very presence in the Tower, and will take the first opportunity to get rid of him.
But these are small worries compared to the adventure he finds himself in the midst of. The Tower is still inhabited by the ghosts of those who were once imprisoned and lost their lives there, among them Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Sir Walter Raleigh who hold court there. Led to them by a ghost cat, Magnificat whom Teufel befriends, he finds he is the subject of a prophecy. Then he meets another group of ghosts with their own plans, opposed to the Tudor court, and who also want him to do their bidding (in fact, will stop at nothing to ensure that he does). But which of them can he trust and what does the prophecy really mean? Meanwhile, he also has an interesting visitor, a rat, Mushika, who is unlike any ordinary rat, and she has some rather curious things to tell him as well. Teufel soon finds that he and his new friends must act quickly, for these ghostly plans will affect not only the ghosts themselves, but also the real world and the people Teufel loves.
Teufel was a fun character to follow; he is rather a typical cat, irreverant, independent minded, loves his humans but will pay them back if he thinks he has been badly done by, speaks his own mind, and is reluctant to obey ‘orders’ of any kind. Initially, I wondered at his attitude and at when (and if ever) he would settle into the adventure, but as the story went on, I actually liked that he stays true to his cat personality, doing what is needed to protect those he loves, but in his own way.
The plot itself was interesting, with elements of the past in the form of ghosts of historical figures, cats, and even a band of mice (there are ghost lions and a ghost bear too) forming part of the story but also some futuristic elements coming in with Mushika and the information she brings. The two threads did connect up in a way, but we have one part of the troubles being dealt with while the other is left open for the next instalment in the series. The story is action packed, and things sometimes do get a little crazy and over the top, and a little hard to keep up with at some points. I enjoyed the thread with the two sets of ghosts, the weaving in of different legends (like of the Trafalgar lions and Bran the Blessed, on which Teufel and his friends must rely to defeat the villains), and also loved the different animal ghosts we meet. I also liked Mushika (loved the Indian inspiration in her name), but since I generally am not as much a fan of sci-fi futuristic elements, was a little less enthusiastic about that thread than the one with the ghosts. Still, with the aspects that were left open, I would want to see what Teufel gets up to next and where his adventures take him and his friends.
The volume also has some very lovely illustrations which I absolutely loved (I was thrilled that the proof copy had coloured illustrations); there was also a pretty map of the Tower at the start, and each chapter has a pretty little picture/figure with the chapter number reflecting its contents. I’m sure the physical book is a very pretty volume indeed, and adds to the charm of the story.
Great fun, and a book which cat lovers would especially enjoy!
For other reviews of books with cats in them, do stop by my books and cats page, Keli Cat’s Book Corner