A Quest of Cats and Vases
by Chad Retterath
Thank you to Reedsy Discovery for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Expected publication date: August 12, 2022.
I was really excited to read this book. It sounded like a great adventure for a young prince who would surely encounter numerous obstacles along the way. What I didn’t expect was this story to turn the chosen one trope completely on its head.
Our story begins with the chosen one dying as he took his first steps on his quest. Death as a theme in this novel was handled in a very interesting way, and I’m genuinely curious to find out what other readers thought of the approach. Right away the second born prince steps up to fill his brother’s place, and fulfill the prophecy of finding the three vases that are rumored to stop the evil Creator.
The story is set up in a familiar cadence for middle grade, with each chapter containing its own beginning, middle, and cliff hanger to get you to the next chapter. We are quickly introduced to our secondary character who has striking similarities to a very polarizing character in the Star Wars franchise: Jar Jar Binks. The cat man, Lawrence, brings humor and moral ambiguity to this tale that really helped flip this from a traditional chosen one journey, to something off kilter and comical. There were times I found myself rooting for Lawrence’s whacky ideas, and other times I would smack my head in frustration (a sensation I’m sure many Star Wars fans know well).
Overall I enjoyed the machinations these two would find themselves in. The strongest parts of this novel for me was the writing in general, with great attention to details about overall mood and self reflection. There were a handful of typos throughout the novel that may need more editing, and I sadly didn’t have the time during this review to highlight them as I encountered them. My favorite part was the final task of the novel. The energy and suspense that flowed through those pages was truly electric, and I couldn’t wait to see how they would make it out. The ending however felt very abrupt and disorienting.
I wish more time had been spent explaining the magic system of the Dirt Whisperers. I think this would help the reader understand the significance of encountering one in person, as well as encountering their magic and trying to defeat it. This novel is a fairly good start to what seems to be the beginning of a series about the morally ambiguous good guys trying to defeat the obviously malicious bad guy. I think young readers would be entertained by the antics of these characters, and be curious enough to want to know what happens next.