||2005 (orig. 1992)
Barnes & Noble.com
In this fantasy about the shape sifting Catswolders, a young woman, transformed into a calico cat, discovers the power to change between her two forms.
It was a masterpiece of antiquity inexplicably hidden in a California hillside garden--a door of rich dark wood with cats carved in it, cats so beautifully rendered that even artist Braden West found himself expecting them to leap forth from their unyielding woody prison.
Yet it was far more. It was, though neither Braden nor any other upper-worlder knew it, a magical portal between the everyday human lands and the Netherworld below--the domain of the Catswolders, shapeshifters with enchantments all their own, who prowled both the Netherworld and the upper one in either cat or human forms.
The sorceress queen Siddonie had long ago sworn to bring all of the Netherworld in her evil sway--but to succeed in her plans for conquest she needed both a healthy heir and the child whom she had once held in her power, a young girl who'd suddenly, mysteriously, vanished. That child was a young woman now. She had spent her early years learning spells from the old enchantress who'd spirited her to safety. Now she could no longer deny the need to discover her lost past. It was a journey that would take her from the Hell Pit to the very heart of Siddonie's court, leading her up through the Catswold Portal into the temporary sanctuary of Braden West's arms. Yet even in the upper world, Siddonie's minions sought to hound her to death....
Melissa woke lying next to Braden deliciously warm curled on the blanket. Outside the bedroom window the sky was barely light. She stretched lazily, her toes touching the foot of the bed and her fingers tracking across the headboard. She jolted awake filled with panic: she wasn't a cat anymore.
She stared down at herself, at her rumpled dress. How close she lay to Braden, nearly touching him. His hand lay across her hair. She watched him, stricken, terrified he would wake. He slept sprawled naked, tangled in the blankets, blankets and sheets tumbled away from his bare back.
How long had she lain beside him as Melissa? She had felt no pain at the changing. . . .
She didn't know why she had changed to a girl; she knew she had been a girl before, but she could remember nothing except being a cat. She remembered traveling through strange, hostile country, and before that a dark, smelly man shoving her into a leather bag. She remembered the smell of diesel fuel as she fought to get out of the bag. Then the diner. She remembered traveling, miserable and hungry, her swollen eye hurting her, and her swollen paw ending pain all through her body. She remembered the stray cats and the fights and the blazing eyes of the rat as it crouched to leap at her.
Will make you take a second look at the next cat you see
"You don't have to love cats to appreciate this fantasy novel in which a race of shapechanging cats are the key to the fate of a Netherworld.... Ms.
Murphy's characterization of Melissa is truly remarkable, making the reader
fully alive to the vibrant, sensual world of the feline. Masterfully orchestrating this cat's cradle plot, Ms. Murphy will make you take a second look at the next cat you see."
A captivating feline fantasy
"A captivating feline fantasy.... Characterizations are dynamic, whether
human or otherwise, and the growing relationship between Braden and Melissa--as cat and as human--is ingeniously handled as is Melissa's Catswold
heritage. Murphy has carefully created two well-realized, disparate worlds
linked by the dramatic struggle to defeat the evil queen. Romantic fantasy
with plenty of action and sure appeal."
"Delightful fantasy.... Murphy...balances her rich, detailed Netherworld with a vividly characterized earthly realm. Her cat people, in particular, ring true."
Insight into feline nature is remarkable
"Murphy's true sorcery is in her deft juggling of two different but inextricably related worlds...and a cast of exotic beasts, outlandlish creatures and intriguing characters caught in a compelling turmoil that swirls them between those worlds.... Some of the finest moments are Murphy's convincing portrayals of the problems faced by a creature who is a cat and a woman.... The Catswold Portal is an enchanting, inventive and ngeniously plotted fantasy, and Murphy's insight into feline nature is remarkable. A word of warning: Don't pick up this book in the evening, intending to read yourself to sleep. You'll be awfully tired the next day."
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