Thursday 17 February 2011

The Tygrine Cat : on the run by Inbali Iserles

Remember The Tygrine Cat? He’s back! And I had the pleasure and privilege to receive a copy to review. Of course, it has taken me ages to actually write the review, but better late than never.

It was great to meet Mati again and read about his adventures with the cats of Cressida Lock. I immediately plunged into that comforting sense of familiarity that I get when I read sequels of books I loved. It feels right from the beginning, there’s no need to wait for it to grow on you. I like that. But here that sense of comfort didn’t last very long. There was no time to get too cozy because an imminent danger is threatening the cats’ lives and soon enough Mati has to convince all of them to leave their homes and follow him into the unknown.

You can pretty much guess from the title that this is a fast-paced story, with very few quiet moments. These cats are on the run, and they have a good reason for it. Although it’s hard for Mati to make them understand that. Again, like in the first book, Mati has to struggle to be trusted. He knows that danger is coming, but he doesn’t know in what form, and thus can’t exactly explain to them why they need to run away. He has the support of the leader Pangur, but this is not enough to convince everyone of the necessity to leave their beloved home. He is still struggling to be accepted, to belong, to be believed no matter what. Eventually, the majority of the cats follow him, including his best friend Binjax, and later on Jess, who returns to stay with Mati, after her hind dies. But as their journey becomes more and more dangerous, and as their destiny remains uncertain, even Pangur begins to question Mati’s judgement. Even Mati himself. The only thing that keeps him going is his instinct. And his growing understanding of the other dimension, Fiåney. In here, he can talk to the spirits, find help and guidance. It’s in here that most of the important action takes place, this time. We learn that Fiåney is not a single dimension, but it’s multilayered and sometimes treacherous. Mati spends a great amount of time in it, exploring it and learning the different kind of worlds that exist there. While doing so, he becomes stronger and more confident in his own abilities, but he also detaches himself from his friends, who begin to see him in a different way, and feel like they can’t reach him or even recognize him. Even so, their bond remains strong. One of the main themes of the book, I thought, was their friendship. Mati couldn’t go on without the help and support of their friends, and they still love him, even if they don’t understand him, and would never leave him. Another theme was the strength of family ties. You can feel it in the cries of despair of a mother who has lost her catlings, in Mati’s longing for his dead mother and his constant search for her in Fiåney, even in the shadow monster’s anger (although I can’t say how without spoiling the story). Then of course there’s the need for freedom and independence that belongs to every cat. That’s why humans are always in the background, seen as strange species, hard to understand and dangerous to trust. They are not their concern. The cats belong to another world, and they have to fight their own battles.

I really enjoyed reading this. I love Mati and his friends, I liked how Fiåney was more detailed and structured, and most importantly, I enjoyed the writing. Always so smooth and elegant, without being overwritten. It flows so well, it makes the reading experience a real pleasure. It reminded me of why I loved the first book so much. This could be the last we read of Mati, but I certainly hope not. I’d love to read more of his adventures, because I’m sure there’s more to tell!