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.