Book Review: No One Noticed the Cat by Anne McCaffrey (Penguin Books – 1996)

Okay, so it’s more of a novella than a novel, but I’m reviewing it anyway. It’s a hard book to get a hold of, but it’s well worth your time (and far less expensive than Villains by Necessity). No dragons in this one; in fact there’s very little overt magic.

After the death of his beloved guardian and regent, Jamas is deemed ready to take the throne of the princedom Esphania. He’s also deemed ready for a few other things—like marriage. When a power-hungering neighbor brings his nieces for a visit to the new ruler, Jamas knows what’s happening but falls in love anyway. His cat Niffy smells a plot afoot and, with her help, Jamas tries to hold his enemies at bay.

It sounds a little youthful, but it’s actually written at an adult level. Niffy serves as a sort of “guard cat,” ordinary in appearance but also in possession of an incredible sixth sense which she attempts to communicate to her human. The story is written from Jamas’s perspective, so the reader has the fun of being able to guess with Jamas as to what Niffy is doing and why. There’s a ton of court intrigue, but don’t go into it looking for too many swordfights or battles. This is a book that knows what it’s about and doesn’t bother trying to be anything else (unlike a few I’ve read).

Most fantasy writers shy away from political intrigue and gravitate more toward war. Or, if they do have political intrigue, they make sure to have full-scale war or insurrection to counterbalance it. No One Noticed the Cat is one of those gems where the main story is the attraction. The only war it uses to raise stakes is really just the threat of war, and it keeps up both tension and excitement with it, too.

As much as I love Dragonflight and Dragonsong, No One Noticed the Cat is probably my favorite of all Anne McCaffrey’s works. If you haven’t read it, you should!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: