Title: Cat’s Quill
Author: Anne Barwell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Tomas, Cathal, Blackthorn, Heidi, Donovan, Mikey
Cover Rating: 3
Tomas Kemp has two successful novels to his name and the true belief that a successful sequel is only a matter of a little inspiration. When Tomas meets a mysterious stranger under the branches of an old oak tree, he feels compelled to tell him about a book he holds dear and the sequel he wants to read. But Cathal doesn’t share that deep belief that the sequel Tomas seeks ends happily. Cathal has seen enough of a world where stories are real to know that happy ever after is sometimes the dream that won’t come true.
But stories have never let Tomas down, and as he follows Cathal across the reality shift between their worlds, he learns that Cathal is right: Happy ever after is never just given—but sometimes, it can be fought for and won.
Tomas is a writer experiencing writer’s block who decides to take the advice of his sister and take a holiday in the countryside outside of London for a few months seeking peace and quiet, hoping to rediscover his elusive inner muse which he believes has deserted him. Preferring to keep his own company he presents a peevish and petulant attitude, equivalent to those of an ill-tempered teenager to anyone whom he meets upon arriving. The first being Donovan who escorts Tomas to the inn he will call home for the next few months. Donovan and Heidi are the proprietors of the inn with Heidi being an avid fan of Tomas’ work including naming her cat, Blackthorn, after one of his main characters and the fact they both refuse to accept Tomas’ bad-temper. Blackthorn on the other hand, can always be found underfoot causing trouble as well as continuously following the irritable writer.
Noticing upon his arrival at the inn, a large oak tree located on the grounds. Drawn to the tree, Tomas believes it will be a wonderful place to sit, write and finally find some peace. It is here that Tomas meets Cathal for the first time instantly noticing a connection between the two. Cathal is elusive in details of his present life, never giving a direct answer and the answers he does give are spoken in riddles. As irritating as Cathal’s refusal of personal information, Tomas finds he looks forward to continuing his meetings with Cathal, either in the early morning hours or at twilight never knowing where he disappears to when he leaves. Including once such afternoon Cathal seemed to disappear into nothing but air. The common thread they both share is a love of reading. At Cathal’s request Tomas loans him one of his most prized books, In Hidden Places, in which Tomas has spent years trying to find the sequel he refuses to believe was never written or any information regarding the author. When Cathal returns the book, he and Tomas have a heated discussion regarding the sequel and its author. During this discussion and the several that follow, Thomas begins to believe Cathal knows more regarding the story. Cathal talks about relatives and friends which amazingly share the same names as the characters in the book. Another strange coincidence is one of the original owners of the inn shares the name of one of the main characters in the book, not to mention Cathal speaks of her as if he had known her in person. But how can this be, when she owned the inn over 90 years ago.
Obsessed with solving the mystery of the original author, Tomas begins to investigate the small village and her inhabitants meeting several colorful characters along the way. Including a young man, Mikey, with the same temperament as Tomas, skilled in the art of blackmail and loves to instruct Tomas in matters of manners, quickly becoming a thorn in Tomas’ side.
As the story continues, Tomas searches for the pieces to make sense of the mysterious puzzle, desperately clinging to the line between reality and fantasy. Through his new found friends and the beginnings of a chance at real love he finds his grumpy exterior beginning to melt. Can he allow himself to embrace what he has found before it is taken away forever?
Transported to a quaint village on the outskirts of London, Anne vividly takes the reader on a fantastical and mysterious adventure through her imagination with an array of colorful, rich characters. I to believe in dragons and anxiously await its sequel, there is going to be a sequel?
Reviewed by: Kate