I found Lynne Truss’ Cat Out of Hell in the “new releases” section of my library, and laughed at the cover.
I’m not laughing now.
British librarian Alec Charlesworth has lost his beloved wife, his job, and now it seems his sanity. For alone in a seaside cottage, he stumbles across a series of files his former coworker left him, containing interviews between an actor “Wiggy” and Roger, a devilish talking cat. Pulled out of his grief by his curiosity, Alec learns about Roger’s nine lives…and the lives that he and his fellow feline companion The Captain have extinguished along the way to immortality. When Alec realizes his wife was one of the victims, he’s determined to send those cats straight back to hell.
Much like Laline Paull’s The Bees, I began this book with affection towards the titular beasts, but ended it in mild (intense) terror. No joke, I was paranoid for days when walking down the street where the “friendly” neighborhood cats prowl. This book has done more than my relatives’ distaste and teasing to persuade me not to get a cat. On the plus side, there’s an adorable dog named Watson who steals the show, largely by virtue of just being there to not be creepy and to quote Sherlockisms at.
The first half was purely horrific as deaths by pets stack up, but Truss’ turn of phrase invoked the dark British humor that I love and eeked out some chuckles among the squeaks of fear. However, the second half rushes towards the supernatural exit with little explanation as to the how and why of these cats’ existence. The narrator excuses himself and thus the author from narrative cohesion, but if the plot holes aren’t filled, one would almost prefer that it was condensed to a straight-up horror tale that ended with cat world domination instead of the cop-out exorcism and Holmes-at-Reichenbach-Falls finale. Yet despite my irritation at the witticisms over substance, I like Alec was eerily charmed by Roger and his story.
Read it if you want the chills and/or to lose the ability to trust your dear fluffball ever again.