Cats in the City of Plague

Fiction - Animals
138 Pages
Reviewed on 05/31/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers' Favorite

Meet Leander, a cat who lives in a small town in northern France in the fateful year of 1349. When the plague - later called the Black Death - breaks out, he and the other cats find themselves in a difficult situation. Suspected of being in league with the Devil and considered the cause of the spread of the epidemic, the cats risk being killed by suspicious inhabitants. Leander and the others temporarily hide in the cathedral's crypt, but to be really safe, they must leave the city at night to take refuge in the forest (where it is said they lived long ago). Will they succeed? Find out by reading Cats in the City of Plague by A. L. Marlow.

Maybe it goes without saying that I started reading Cats in the City of Plague because I love cats, but what I found was beyond my expectations. The story of Leander and his companions is one of the most original I have read about our furry friends. Readers will take the cats' fate to heart (I am sure everyone will hope they reach the forest unharmed), but they will also learn how humans treated these creatures in the past and what beliefs were associated with them. I loved this book so much because A. L. Marlow entertains readers with a great story while shedding light on what could happen to cats during a plague. I recommend Cats in the City of Plague to all cat lovers who want to go back in time with their favorite pets.

Vincent Dublado

Cats in the City of Plague by A.L. Marlow is a survival adventure tale on a par with Watership Down and Bambi. This tale is set during the sweeping Black Death of the 14th century. Leander and his fellow cats are living in a time when superstition abounds. As the plague continues to take a considerable toll on human lives, social unrest has made the citizens irrational, casting blame on anyone they suspect of causing the plague. The cats are not spared from the persecution, and so Leander and his feline friends must flee the French city and seek refuge in the forest. But they have long been accustomed to living with humans. If they are to survive, they will need to get out of their comfort zone, to relearn the ways of the wild because humans have changed their minds about keeping them as companions.

Growing up reading Aesop’s Fables, I am a big fan of stories that feature talking animals. Cats in the City of Plague is speculative, but the story has a strong sense of realism despite its highly speculative nature. Indeed, as the world collectively bears the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, A.L. Marlow weaves a powerful tale that resonates with readers of all ages. I didn’t even worry that this tale would increase my unease. Rather, I admired Marlow’s narrative for the way it captured the feel of a common experience. You can tell that he has dedicated much time to research in how he presents the anatomy of the plague and the crude measures undertaken to fight it. In spite of such bleakness, the best part of Cats in the City of Plague is that it offers catharsis and hope. Overall, I highly recommend it for its compelling theme, sense of urgency, and allegorical message.

Pikasho Deka

Cats in the City of Plague by A.L. Marlow is a historical fiction novel set during the 14th century Black Death pandemic in Europe, featuring cats as the main characters. In a northern French city lived a cat with a grey coat named Leander. Like many of his fellow housecats, Leander followed the spirit of his distant ancestor 'Le Chat', liked patrolling the rooftops, and had a healthy disdain for the strays. But everything changes when out of nowhere, humans start behaving strangely, banishing their furry companions from their homes. Things take a turn for the worse when Leander and his friends witness cats being burned alive in the town square. Now, with a wise tabby as their leader, Leander and his friends must flee the city and take refuge in the woods. Will they succeed?

A moving story that pulls at your heartstrings until the end, Cats in the City of Plague is a captivating read. A.L. Marlow spins a touching yarn set during one of the worst pandemics in human history, using actual historical events as a backdrop to tell a survival story full of charm, warmth, and swagger, much like cats themselves. Marlow does a splendid job of capturing the psyche of cats and how they behave and respond to certain situations. Each cat has a distinct personality and displays the characteristics unique to them. As someone who grew up with furry feline companions, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.