With every trip to the library, I always try to find myself some hidden gems that I may not usually find in a book store. It’s one of the reasons why I am always so excited to barge into the quiet doors (the other reasons may, or may not, include a cute librarian). Last month, I was lucky enough to find Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss!
Witty, whacky and weird: the triple whammy. Cat Out of Hell is a book of magical realism that will make you laugh at the seemingly cliché talking cat trope and then horrify you in the next page with an account of a painfully slow death. In the perspective of a reaction to an initial reaction at meeting a talking cat, you’ll be whisked away into the confusing but, oddly intriguing, trouble of a psychopathic cat, a dead librarian and a contract with the devil himself, feeling just as stupid and clueless as our two narrators compared to our charmingly intelligent cat.
I finished this book in one sitting. It’s a short book and a very easy read. However – in such a short time – never have I laughed out loud and, simultaneously, physically shiver and shake whilst reading a book. I don’t read many comedy horrors, but this might just be my favourite among them all and I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I’ll be buying myself a copy, too, because this is going to be a great reread come Halloween.
Many reviews I’ve read of this book had complained about the confusion and the lack of motives and importance of some events. However, this messy and mismatched charm, is exactly what I loved about Cat Out of Hell. From the start, we are thrown off with a recount of a recount – written in script by the first recounter, Wiggy, who had probably aspired for the recount to become a famous play – about meeting with a talking cat. It’s doubly hilarious with the little footnotes of our current narrator, Alec, who – after getting over the shock of a talking cat – remarks that said talking cat was leagues above Wiggy’s intelligence.
As soon as the thrill enters, though, an eery and dark tension creeps up on you. I thought at first that the absurdity of talking cats would mask the horror but it quickly wore off once you realised the mysterious deaths that are happening behind the scene. I was completely engrossed in the story and became a little jumpy in real time. It reminded me of what it was like to read Frankenstein. In both books, whilst ‘the monster’ was not in the scene, his very real and threatening presence is, and it seems, the longer we don’t meet our talking cat, the more likely it is for the body count to rise.
The book doesn’t disappoint in the comedy part of the comedy horror, however, and despite the tense atmosphere, it still manages to make light of things and make me laugh. The jokes are clever, ingenious and, in some cases, endearing, despite bearing dark humour with the appearance of psychopathic cats and a cat cult that worships Satan – you know, as you do.
The characters were written very well and each and every person we meet will have some hidden depths to them, lots of twists and turns that, unexpectedly, thickens the plot. Even though, the plot is slippery to hold onto, I found I didn’t mind as much because of the amazing characters that we get to meet. It still doesn’t quite make sense why some of the people do what they do but it feels like they were also just as intrigued and charmed by the same spell that kept me turning the page; the troublesome dilemma involving Satan’s cat minions.
I also really liked the little, subtle details that you are given with each character. It made them likeable and so, so real that I half-expected Alec Charlesworth to show up at my local library looking for a sketchy cat.
For people who both love and hate cats comes the tale of Alec Charlesworth, a librarian who finds himself suddenly alone: he’s lost his job, his beloved wife has just died. Overcome by grief, he searches for clues about her disappearance in a file of interviews between a man called “Wiggy” and a cat, Roger. Who speaks to him.
It takes a while for Alec to realize he’s not gone mad from grief, that the cat is actually speaking to Wiggy . . . and that much of what we fear about cats is true. They do think they’re smarter than humans, for one thing. And, well, it seems they are! What’s more, they do have nine lives. Or at least this one does – Roger’s older than Methuselah, and his unblinking stare comes from the fact that he’s seen it all.
And he’s got a tale to tell, a tale of shocking local history and dark forces that may link not only the death of Alec’s wife, but also several other local deaths. But will the cat help Alec, or is he one of the dark forces?
If you’re wanting to read and try something very new, this book is the one for you! It’s a creepy but fun, mystery adventure and I definitely, recommend reading it for Halloween, as I will be doing. I’ll be taking off half a cup, though, because Satan had a smaller cameo in it than I would have liked. But, the other half will be kept because it amuses me that cats can, and will, treat even Satan badly.
I picked this book because I love cats. It amuses me even more to know that people think of cats as spawns of the devil, or in this case, cat minions! At the moment, I can’t afford to take care of one and my family members are either, scared or allergic. So, I’ll gladly welcome any books about cats and live vicariously through the story, instead.
Who else here is a cat person? And, can anyone give me recommendations of books about cats? What other comedy horrors would be a fun book to read? Leave your thoughts in the comments! I’d love recommendations, constructive criticism and just talking to you all~
Future Cat Lady,