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- Published on Saturday, 31 March 2012 12:09 pm
- Written by Seregil of Rhiminee
Jay Bell's The Cat in the Cradle was published in 2010. It's the first book of the Loka Legends series.
Here's information about Jay Bell:
Click here to visit Jay Bell's official website.
Here's a description of The Cat in the Cradle:
Dueling with mad magicians, battling possessed beasts, and surviving endless hostile landscapes? Easy. Loving someone you weren't supposed to? That was hard.
A faceless killer terrorizes the Five Lands, one set on killing the ten Oligarchs, masters of elemental magic. It is from this murderer that Dylan, son of the Blue Oligarch, is forced to flee. Only Tyjinn, a brash and unpredictable bodyguard, stands between Dylan and certain death. Rather than play it safe, Tyjinn makes an unusual proposal; to hunt the hunter. This isn't the only unorthodox idea he puts forth as an attraction blooms between the two young men. In the midst of uncountable obstacles and unforgiving odds, can Dylan really afford to recognize his own feelings?
A REVIEW OF JAY BELL'S THE CAT IN THE CRADLE
The Cat in the Cradle was a very pleasant surprise for me and I enjoyed reading it. It's a charming and easily likeable fantasy book, which handles difficult subjects in a sensitive and engaging way.
The Cat in the Cradle is a story about a young man called Dylan. He's the son of the Blue Oligarch and lives in the Lakelands. Dylan decides to travel away for a few days, because he's a bit bored with his life (he decides to visit his friend, Rano, who's the son of the Yellow Oligarch). When Dylan witnesses the brutal murder of the Yellow Oligarch, his father sends him away with a powerful loka stone. Dylan finds shelter at the house of Tyjinn and begins to fall in love with him. Together they decide to investigate things and try to stop the killer. Soon Dylan and Tyjinn notice that things aren't as simple as they thought they'd be...
The main characters are Dylan, Tyjinn, Lali and Kio (Dylan's talking cat). Both Dylan and Tyjinn are young men and children of the Oligarchs. Tyjinn's friend, Lali, is a young woman who lives in the desert. Dylan is a bit shy, confused and insecure, but Tyjinn is a much more determined and braver. Dylan's cat, Kio, is an interesting character, because he makes funny and sarcastic comments about things.
All the main characters are charming and almost instantly likeable. They're sympathetic characters, because they aren't perfect. One of the best things about this book is that the characters have their own problems and they make mistakes. This makes them realistic, because making mistakes is part of growing up and although we try not to make them, mistakes happen. Reading about the characters' mistakes was truly interesting and it added lots of depth to the story.
The worldbuilding works fine, because Jay Bell writes fascinatingly about exotic places, people, animals and beings, which inhabit the Five Lands. He gradually adds interesting bits and pieces to the story and makes the fantasy world come alive. The magical and strange animals and beasts were intriguing (for example, the woodworm were well created creatures). All the locations are different - for example, the Lakelands is a totally different kind of an area than the desert where the Green Oligarch lives. The Oligarchs are also different and each one has his/her own kind of personality.
The magic system in this book is interesting, because Oligarchs use loka stones/crystals to do powerful magic. Each Oligarch has different powers and they're able to do different things. There's also other kind of magic, which is done by magicians. It was interesting to read how Dylan's feelings affected his ability to use magic, because you don't normally see this kind of thing in modern fantasy books.
The plot moves fast forward, but every once in a while it slows down and the author develops the characters by revealing more about them and their lives. The combination of character development and action works well, because it keeps things interesting.
I liked the Jay Bell's writing style, because the story was delightfully humourous and exciting. The best way to describe the author's writing style is to say that it's direct and easily likeable.
By the way, Kio almost steals the show, because he's a big cat and he can talk. His comments are wonderfully sarcastic and observative - they add charming lightness to the story and make the reader wait for what he says next. The author shows a lot of potential in this book, because this kind of creativeness is a bit rare nowadays. He also seems to have an ability to write easily about small details, which add lots of depth to the fantasy world.
What separates The Cat in the Cradle from most fantasy books is that the main character, Dylan, is gay. The author wrote fluently about Dylan's feelings and insecurities. I enjoyed reading about how he gradually began to accept his feelings and realized that it's okay to love another guy. Dylan goes through the same kind of emotions that each teenage guy has to go through when he falls in love with somebody, because feelings are the same for everybody regardless of their sexual orientation (in Dylan's case his feelings cause him a bit more problems, because he has to think about what it means to love another guy and how people are going to react to it).
I think it's great that the author has written a fantasy book about a young gay man, because it's difficult to find good gay fantasy. There aren't many fantasy series in which the main characters are gay (at this moment only Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series and Richard Morgan's A Land Fit for Heroes series come to my mind as examples of fantasy series in which the main characters are gay), so it was interesting to read about Dylan, his life and his sexual identity.
This book is also a story about love, friendship, duty and sacrifice, because the main characters have to go through several things and face lots of problems. The choices that the characters have to make aren't always easy, so they have to deal with them and their consequences.
The Cat in the Cradle is almost like a fairytale for adults, because some events create a fairytale-like atmosphere. This book can also be called a young adult book for adults, because I think it's possible that several readers may want to categorize it as a young adult book. In my opinion this book is adult fantasy, because it contains violence, but readers may have different opinions about this thing.
This book contains several drawings by Andreas Bell (all the artwork is done by him). I'm sure that readers will like these drawings, because they look beautiful. Click here to visit Andreas Bell's website. (If I'm not mistaken, this book was first published without illustrations and the illustrations were added to the new edition.)
I liked The Cat in the Cradle very much and I intend to read the second book, when it's published, because it's difficult to find this kind of fascinating and creative gay fantasy. The Cat in the Cradle is a charming fantasy book, which can be recommended to fantasy readers, who enjoy reading entertaining stories. I think that this book can also be recommended to readers who don't normally read fantasy, because it's an amazingly delightful and funny fantasy book.
If you're looking for something creative, different and entertaining to read, The Cat in the Cradle is a good choice, because it's an enjoyable read.