Ratha’s Creature: Romeo and Juliet with cats

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review young adult Clare Bell Ratha's CreatureRatha’s Creature by Clare Bell

Anyone who has a cat can tell you that they are amazingly intelligent. Imagine if they could talk. Talking cats are the central conceit of Ratha’s Creature, the tale of the female cat Ratha and her fight for respect in the clan of cats that make up her family. Ratha is a challenge to the leadership of her clan, especially the misogynistic Meoran. But when she learns to tame fire, she is a threat that can no longer be tolerated.

I’ve heard books called workmanlike, and I was never really sure what that meant. Now I do. There isn’t anything wrong with Ratha’s Creature. The story is fine, the characters are well-written, but I never really connected with the story. It took me several weeks to finish the book because I just wasn’t intrigued enough to pick it up whenever I had time to read. Once I finally soldiered through the middle, the action did pick up again, and it was easy to get through the last third of the book.

Ratha’s Creature left me conflicted. I wanted to like it more than I actually did, but just couldn’t get past the feeling that I had read this story before. Imagine combining Clan of the Cave Bear with Romeo and Juliet, but with cats. I wanted the idea of the characters being sentient cats to have more of an impact on the story telling than it does. Characters fight like animals, and Ratha goes into heat, but I didn’t feel like it changed their perspectives in any meaningful way, which left me wondering why the characters were cats at all.

This is intended to be a YA novel, and while many YA novels translate well for an adult audience, I don’t think that Ratha’s Creature is one of them. I think younger readers would enjoy this book more than I did, and would be interested enough in Ratha’s struggles and triumphs to go on to the other books in the series.

The Named — (1983-2008) Young adult. Publisher: Ratha and her clan are the Named, a band of intelligent wild cats whose society is based on herding deer. the Named have laws, language, traditions, and leaders. they also have enemies. the predatory raiders of the unNamed are driving them close to the edge of survival. then ratha, a mere yearling, discovers what she calls the “red tongue”—Fire. Her new weapon gives the Named a new defense, but it also rouses the ire of Meoran, the tyrannical clan leader. soon ratha finds herself in exile among the un- Named, but determined to survive.

Clare Bell The Named: Ratha's Creature, Clan Ground, Ratha and Thistle-Chaser, Ratha's Challenge, Ratha's Courage Clare Bell The Named: Ratha's Creature, Clan Ground, Ratha and Thistle-Chaser, Ratha's Challenge, Ratha's Courage Clare Bell The Named: Ratha's Creature, Clan Ground, Ratha and Thistle-Chaser, Ratha's Challenge, Ratha's Courage Clare Bell The Named: Ratha's Creature, Clan Ground, Ratha and Thistle-Chaser, Ratha's Challenge, Ratha's Courage Clare Bell The Named: Ratha's Creature, Clan Ground, Ratha and Thistle-Chaser, Ratha's Challenge, Ratha's Courage


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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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