Reserved for the Cat: A new version of puss in boots

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I am a big fan of Mercedes Lackey especially her Valdemar Series.  I have also read a few of her other series from time to time.  Reserved for the Cat is the 5th novel from her Elemental Masters Series.  Each of these books is based on a well know fairy tale–loosely.  Some you can tell easily, like Reserved for the Cat is Puss in Boots and Phoenix and Ashes is easily Cinderella. Although, it’s harder to tell what stories some of the others are based on.  Some of these are well done and entertaining and the others seem to drag a bit to me.  Reserved for the Cat, luckily, is one of the well done ones.  It is written well, moves well, and has some very entertaining characters.

Plot:  Ninette’s father disappeared when she was young.  She and her mother have lived a relatively hard life in Paris, France.  Her mother sat for artists and took in laundry to make them a meager living.  When she was young, Ninette’s mother noticed that Ninette has a talent for dancing; she got her daughter trained in Ballet in hopes that her daughter could become the mistress to some rich gentlemen rather than turning tricks on the street.

One day after her mother has passed,  Ninette gets the fortune or misfortune to dance the lead in the Ballet for one performance because the dancer who is supposed to dance the part falls and hurts her ankle.  The result is that the Prima is upset and Ninette is turned out from the dance company.  With no money and no job Ninette is out of options.  She is about to have to turn tricks on the street for a living, but then something strange happens, a cat begins to talk to her.  Follow my directions, it says, and I will make your wildest dreams come true.  Having no real choice, she does as the cat says and the cat takes her to England where he has her masquerade as a Russian Dancer.  The cat gets her involved with an entertainment company in Blackpool, England in which she becomes the star of the show.

But then someone tries to kill Ninette, by magical means. Now it is up to her new friends Arthur, Nigel, and the Magician Jonathon to try and figure out who is trying to kill Ninette.  Can they figure out who is trying to kill her before it’s too late?  Will Ninette come clean about her past?  And what or who is this talking cat anyways?  You only find out if you read this very entertaining book. 

I love reading Mercedes Lackey’s work.  She has well formed storylines and unforgettable characters.  Her works read well and quickly, she doesn’t bog you down with unnecessary details or side plots.  I read this book all in one day. 

Her characters in this tale are not as striking as some.  They are not as memorable as some of her heralds from the Valdemar series, but they are well formed and worth reading about.  The cat is a very interesting character but I will not give away his secret, it is one of the key plot moments in the books.  Ninette is not as naive as she seems.  While seeming simple, she is a complex character whose layers keep getting revealed.  This makes her an excellent main character.  I wish we had learned more about Nigel, Arthur and Wolf (a talking bird that says he is Mozart reborn).  These three friends are elemental masters (or people who know about and can work magic-where the common man does not know about magic and cannot do magic) and seemed to be fascinating characters but we don’t get to know much about them.  Perhaps they are key characters in other books in the series.  I don’t know since I haven’t read many of the other novels.

Overall this is a very nice read.  Reserved for the Cat would make some good holiday reading.  It is a quick, light and very entertaining read.  If you like works based on Fairy Tales or you enjoy Mercedes Lackey’s work then you should enjoy this novel very much.

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