Released: October 2014
Lynne Truss’ new novel Cat Out of Hell is not particularly a book for cat lovers. Or perhaps it is – a book for masochistic cat lovers, or cat lovers with a very sly, very sick sense of humour.
It’s a darkly comic mystery set in a quirky and quintessentially British seaside village; a series of papers and emails are discovered by a vacating librarian, documents that tell the tale of a talking cat as the enemy against a seemingly unassuming and innocent man. Roger, the cat (and why wouldn’t a cat be called Roger), lays it out simply: let me tell you a tale. A gruesome, gripping tale.
Cats are evil – at least, that’s what we gather from this book. They share a secret world, where they’re able to communicate with each other, gossiping about the humans who keep them and the humans who don’t. The strays judge the domestics – it’s similar to many vampire fictions where the “pure” vampires scorn those who become more human just for being close to them and, most criminally, those who fall in love with them.
The narrator of the book – the librarian from Cambridge who stumbles across these emails and transcripts whilst holed up in a cottage on the sea – slots the clues from his findings piece by piece to find the truths and the lies in what he’s reading. Do cats really have an agenda? Can they talk to each other – can they talk to us, as the author of the works so adamantly insists? Are they our enemy out for blood?
Written in a variety of styles – first person, screenplay and through email correspondence, Cat Out of Hell is an Edgar Allen Poe-esque story thrust into modern times. Hammer Books, an imprint of the film studio who have gifted us with The Woman In Black and Let Me In, have published this book just in time for those longer nights when it gets dark early and we find ourselves curled up with a book and a cup of tea – and it is indeed the perfect book to devour on a chilly evening. For not only is it quite terrifying and graphic, it’s genuinely funny and very dark.
As I sit here wrapping up this review with my cat perched on the bed behind me, I can’t help but give her the side-eye and wonder what the heck is going on behind that cute, furry face. The best I can hope for right now is that she doesn’t start talking.