Deathcat Sally by P.S. Brooks, 387 pages, published by Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie in 2015.
After hitting a cat in the road, Sally is also struck down and seriously injured. Still recovering from her injuries several weeks later, her life takes a bizarre turn when the cat she hit appears as an ethereal presence sprouting from her left shoulder. And he talks, a lot. Now Sally can hear other animals too, maybe it’s the effects of the accident and the medication, but it seems terribly real. Things get even worse when she keeps falling asleep straight into a desolate and ruined land where beasts lurk trying to kill her.
This fantasy horror tale was intriguing and difficult to put down. I’ve never read a book where an animal spirit was spliced to a human before, so I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but this was more than I could have hoped for. Interesting, engaging, and it discussed issues such as cruelty to animals and humanity’s misuse of the environment. It was quite dark overall. Tortured animals, trapped souls, anger and hate. It gave me a lot to think about. I’m quite fond of animals, and I would never intentionally hurt one, but this book made me wonder what more I can do to help the animals. All animals are important to the earth, we should remember that more often and make sure to look after the ones we have left.
The pace of the story was quite quick, and I liked the writing style. I also liked the action scenes, especially the one on the platform over the fire pit and in the coliseum. The latter was rather gruesome, definitely fodder for nightmares! The author used good descriptive language to really pull the reader into No Man’s Land. Picturing such desolation and destruction, and the pain and anger of its inhabitants was terribly depressing. Yet I had to read on because I was so sure Sally and Zachary would find a way to help all of those souls trapped there.
There were so many animal characters I found myself a little confused as to which was which. I had to re-read bits with the animals to try and get them straight, but still didn’t quite manage it. The main characters were very well written and developed. I got to know Sally and Zachary quite well. Zachary was by far my favourite character. He was not impressed to find himself attached to Sally, and he makes sure she knows it. He was loud, rude, and often lewd, yet he had tender moments too. He made me laugh a lot. His total obsession with Malibu the leopard, despite her rebuffs, highlighted his persistence and self-confidence. Such a wonderful character; I will remember him for a long time.
There are a some black and white illustrations scattered through the book, all of which were very good. The images were done by the author, who is very talented. I love his style of illustration.
Due to some of the grisly scenes and themes, Deathcat Sally is more suited to mature readers in high school. It is a great book for adults too.
*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.