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Book Review: The Cats of Grand Central

February 26, 2014

While the second book has decent enough exposition, these two books work well when read in sequence. I’d love for there to be more of this series!

The Book of Night With Moon
Diane Duane
(library book)

I’d been putting off reading this, even though I am an avid fan of Diane Duane’s Young Wizards universe, and a sucker for fantasy novels set in New York. I have never been a fan of having talking animals as characters. So I let that put me off. (My dubiousness about talking animals as characters comes from being very creeped out by reading Watership Down in junior high.

And boy, was I wrong. This was lovely. The cats worked as fully realized animal characters, with well crafted personalities. Point of view stays mainly in Rhiow’s head- she’s a house cat and a wizard. As a cat lover myself, I found her meditations on human bonds versus independence interesting. Rhiow and her wizardly associates, both cats and people, worked well for me as personalities. (And as a fan of the Young Wizards books, I was delighted to see cameos from familiar humans.) I do love the way Diane Duane constructs wizardry as a stand against the entropy of the universe, a humanitarian undertaking. (Given the feline protagonists, I’m not sure about “humanitarian” as a word choice.)

The cat culture is clearly defined, with a religious belief system, greeting rituals, power struggles and manners. Diane Duane always crafts new cultures beautifully, honoring their complexities. And of course, the wizard culture, familiar to me from her other series, plays with, and sometimes against, cats and their social frameworks. There are plenty of funny bits- Urrah is fascinated by singing, and particularly has a penchant for opera, which the others tease him gently for (it’s a tomcat thing, to love singing in any form). One of the greeting rituals cats have is to breathe breaths with one another, and this always comes with commentary about “wow, you ate pastrami!” or “hot pickles? Really?” It tickled me.

I may put off reading the second book, as a treat for later, but I’ll look forward to it.
I’m very, very picky about fantasy, and this one worked beautifully.

To Visit The Queen
Diane Duane
(library book)

So I didn’t even last a week before I decided I really needed to read the second volume, and get more of Rhiow, Urrah and Arhu’s adventures. So I downloaded it from the library.
If I loved the first volume for being well-crafted fantasy set in New York, I found the second volume also hitting a sweet spot. This time, the cats’ wizardly responsibilities take them to Lon

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