Author Thomas M. Carroll’s KINGDOM OF THE SILVER CAT is a lively and entertaining tale set in an imaginative fantasy world, where fairies have their own wars and agendas, children have talents and weaknesses to match, and strange predatory birds hunt the gifted on behalf of a sinister master. The book has an ambitious cast of characters for a children’s book, with fifteen young protagonists to identify with, both male and female, ranging from eight to thirteen years old. However, the children are given clear and distinctive enough personalities and talents to prevent this substantial cast from ever becoming confusing, and to ensure that any young reader can find someone to like. The large cast also lets the book explore different areas and characters in this strange new world they find themselves in, as some children inevitably become separated from the main group and find new allies and new dangers.
The kids are recognizably kids, reacting to their situation with the resilience of youth, and taking delight in their new abilities, while still worrying about those left at home, occasionally squabbling among each other, and being both frightened and amazed by their new situation. It’s heartening to watch them pull together when they most need each other, and the protectiveness and leadership shown by the older kids is appealing. The world-building is both substantive and charming, using time-honored fantasy tropes (which, after all, survive for a reason) in creative and thoughtful ways. This is a world worth exploring, with a variety of peoples and places, enough novelty and beauty to delight, and enough danger (both apparent and promised) to keep the suspense going until the end.
While the book is long, the plot is engaging and fast-moving, and the changing scenery will keep even kids with short attention spans interested. The map at the beginning and the glossary of the fairy language at the end can be useful for those who enjoy such references, but those who hate paging back and forth to look up words will be relieved to know that they are not absolutely necessary to enjoy the story. This is clearly the start of a series, as there are some loose ends left hanging for future stories, and the resolution, while satisfying, is not quite complete. However, there’s enough promise here to catch the attention and make the reader want to find out what happens next.
A clever and engaging fantasy with a lively cast of characters and an imaginatively-drawn world, KINGDOM OF THE SILVER CAT will likely appeal to tween readers searching for a little magic in their lives.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader