Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cats in a Dreamspell: The Cat’s Meow

Cats in a Dreamspell: The Cat’s Meow

By Jacqueline Seewald

The first thing I noticed about CATS IN A DREAMSPELL is the exceptional artwork. I’m not talking just about the clever cover art both front and back but also the fact that each of the twelve short stories in this anthology has its own unique cat photos. This is appropriate because each story is different and makes its own individual impact.

The first story in this anthology is by Mark Rosendorf, who has written several well-reviewed novels in The Rasner Effect Trilogy. “Cat in the Cockpit” is clever magic realism. The story has shadings of Twilight Zone but still manages to be fresh and original—okay maybe kind of weird. Mike and Joe want to be pilots and are in the cockpit of a 747 plane with the pilot and co-pilot, who one after the other leave and don’t return. There is also a cat in the cockpit. Mike is unsettled by this and goes in search of the pilots. Everyone else appears mesmerized by a movie, including the flight attendant who soon also disappears. Joe sees no problem in flying the plane, after all, he’s got a copy of the manual. Theatre of the absurd? Perhaps. Yet it works because the reader is inclined to suspend disbelief, completely sucked into the story and wondering what will happen next.

“Dog Matters” by D. Nathan Hilliard is another unique and original story. Minke the cat tells this story in first person point of view in a lively manner with a distinct personality and voice. He has lived in harmony with Chipper the dog since they were kitten and pup. But something evil has flown into the birdhouse. Chipper warns Minke and then tries to protect his human family from harm but he fails tragically. After that, although Minke is warned that this is a matter for dogs, not cats, he decides to fight the monster. A story worth reading.

“Chronicles of a Cat Woman” by Cathy Noonan is a psychological horror story. It begins with Bethany Stevens, a young reporter assigned to interview Muriel Whethorford, “the cat lady.” As they talk, Bethany discovers a disturbing coincidence. Both she and Muriel suffered great tragedies in their lives. Bethany had repressed hers. The story becomes eerie and frightening with a shocker of an ending.

“A Cat Named Ginger” by Laurel Lamperd is the story of Gordon Smith whose wife had died. Gordon missed her cooking most especially and was delighted when he met Gladys Dobson who loved to cook and bake. Her Rose Cottage seemed like paradise. But Ginger, Gladys’s cat, had other ideas. Thus begins an interesting tale with subtle humor, dark insights into human nature, and interesting twists.

“Investigator Incarnate” by Christy Tillery French is a mystery told from the cat’s point of view. However, this is no ordinary cat but a police detective who has been reincarnated as a cat. He returns to his old police station and decides to help two rookies solve two murders while encouraging a romance between them as well. This story keeps the reader engrossed from beginning to end. It has wit and charm.

“Mystery, Mischief and Mayhem” by Teresa Leigh Judd is the story of Janet Spaulding, a computer software analyst who has two cats, Mischief and Mayhem. Mischief drags in a soiled garden glove. Next, the cats uncover a human hand in the pile of dirt behind Janet’s house. The mystery of the body buried in her backyard gives Janet a chance to meet a very attractive police detective. This is a well-written, engrossing and enjoyable story.

The next story is one that I have written, “Just the Three of Us.” I won’t comment since that might be self-serving.

“The Purrsistant Cat” by Teresa Leigh Judd (yes, you saw her name before) wrote a story about Shannon whose cat Smoky has a sixth sense and knows the house Shannon has rented is dangerous. This is a horror story, a tour de force, and I doubt you will guess the ending.

“Mal’s Bounty” by Neal Levin and Darren W. Pearce is something of a fantasy, mystery, horror story combined. It’s unique, different. Carravale is a city in which a thief named Weaver Finch steals at night. She is aided by a telepathic cat named Mal. Weaver intends to rob Old Man Crowshaw’s Manor. Entering it, she discovers much more than she ever bargained for.

“Amelia and the Better Path” by Tony Williams is a quaint mystery story set in England. Amelia’s cat Ivan is missing. Stephen, her grandnephew, offers to help the wizened spinster in her search. Amelia knows her village and is soon able to find Ivan and fix some other problems as well.

“Chester’s Treasure” by Linda Houle is the story of how Chester the cat locates an amazing treasure in a house with a history. Chester’s owner is Valerie who has married a vampire named Andrew. It is Andrew’s house that Chester explores. An enjoyable story well worth reading.

“Smokey and Bandit” by Randy Rawls is a clever cat story. The tale is told by Smokey, a cat, one of two who allow Josh, a South Florida PI, to share their home. They even help him in his work and protect him from harm. A very entertaining mystery story.