Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: Cat's Tale: A Fairy Tale Retold
by Bettie Sharpe

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy
Author: Bettie Sharpe
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Publisher: Carina Press
Purchase Online:
Kindle || Audible
Reviewed by: Aimee
Source: ARC from Publisher via Netgalley
Rating: 3 out of 5
"She is beautiful. Beauty is power. This girl will do more for us than a boy ever could. She will marry the king."

"There's a small problem with your plan, my dearest," my father replied. "The king already has a wife."

"A minor obstacle." Mother dismissed the current queen with a wave of her hand. "He will set her aside when he sees our Catriona."

As it happened, Mother did not need to worry about the queen for the good lady was kind enough to die of eating bad shellfish when I was barely eighteen.

"If only she had died sooner," Mother said when she heard the news. "Now we will have to wait out the king's year of mourning before presenting you at court. You will be nineteen when he sees you-- positively ancient."
Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl finally gets her prince.... err King, in this adult retelling of the classic french fairy tale, Le Maistre Chat, ou Le Chat Botté (Puss in Boots.) I'm kidding, really. I mention Blair Waldorf, because I'm reminded of her, constantly, by Catriona's thoughts and behavior. It's like Blair Waldorf finally made it into her long desired fairy tale somehow. Only she's still as deceitful and conniving in the fairy tale as she is on the CW's Gossip Girl [a popular TV show on the CW for those of you who aren't familiar.] This all changes by the end of the story, for the most part, and there is an HEA.

In Cat's Tale: A Fairy Tale Retold, the main character, Catriona, is the daughter and only child of two treasonous nobles who would have preferred a son. Her cold, calculating mother convinces the father that Catriona, who was born a sickly baby, was worth keeping alive for future status and financial gains. So she is raised more as a commodity to be used, rather than a treasure for loving and nuturing. As she grows, she learns the ways of manipulation, selfishness and materialism from her parents. Surpassing even her parents in their despicable talents, she attracts the attention of the King and eventually becomes his consort. But after the King dies, she's turned into a cat by the King's sorcerer and thrown into the mill pond to drown. She somehow survives this predicament, runs into the millers youngest son, sets about finding a way to get her own body back and uses the miller's son to do so in the process. Out of all this comes the trials and tribulations that lead to self revelation and a change in character for Catriona.

Not many books leave me feeling a bit ambivalent, but this happens to be one of them. Cat's Tale: A Fairy Tale Retold has good and bad moments. My main problem is with the main character Catriona. She's such a despicable person that I find it hard, even now, to like her. Yes, she gets her comeuppance for all the despicable things she's done. Yes, she faces humiliation and goes through a transformation. Yes, she realizes what a terrible person she's been. Or maybe it's better to say she finally cares that she's been such a terrible person. I think she was always perfectly aware that her actions were deplorable, but she just didn't care. Don't get me wrong, I felt pity for Catriona when things went south for her. But after all is said and done, her vanity remains despite the other changes to her character. Maybe she no longer lies, cheats, steals and does whatever she can to seek material gain. But then, she doesn't really have to. I guess I was hoping for her change to be a bit more radical than it was. To not only realize how vile a person she had been, but to completely turn away or reject everything of her original self including the vanity and materialism.

Aside from Catriona's lack of a complete transformation, I will say the story itself was not bad. It's very thoughtful and has it's really touching moments. The plot is solid and the characters are well rounded. The author's writing style is very eloquent and there is much to appreciate about the creativity it took to spin such a tale. It's basically a very unique and adult retelling of the Puss in Boots fairy tale. And, yes, it's an Adult retelling. Which means that it's not appropriate for teens or young adults. There are many books that walk a thin line between romance and erotica, and this story certainly likes to play at the border between the two genres.

My final verdict? Well... I'm not sure this story was for me. I can see it appealing to others and I think many people would probably appreciate it more than I did. Some of you may even think I'm a stark raving lunatic for being so picky about Catriona's change or partial lack there of. Who know's. I didn't hate it and it certainly has it's worthy moments. It's obvious that the author has a great writing style and very talented in her way with words. But again, it left me feeling a bit ambivalent and I don't like feeling ambivalent. I like neat and tidy closures that leave me feeling warm fuzzies about the main character. In this case, the warm fuzzies were not complete. I definitely liked it, but that one little issue has kept it from being a complete Win for me. I do think , however, that other's will probably have a completely different POV than me.

I recommend Cat's Tale: A Fairly Tale Retold by Bettie Sharpe to people that like fairy tales, fantasy, adult retelling of fairy tales and scheming, conniving women like those in Gossip Girl.

Note: I noticed this book is also available through audible for $4.33 right now, which is literally a steal if you prefer audiobooks. So I grabbed it myself and gave it a brief listen. The narrator, Nikki O'Conner, is pretty good. I'm a little picky about narrators and can be easily annoyed. Especially with overacting a part or giving a character a strange voice that doesn't do them justice. But this narrator is pleasant and doesn't overact any of the characters. I'd give her a rating of 4 stars.
ratingFiction Fool

Other Reviews:
Stella's Reviews: 5 stars
Hirondelle's Reviews: 3 stars
Tabby's Reviews: 4 stars
A Cupcake and a Latte: 2.5 stars
Goodreads Average Rating: 3.86 stars

Other books by Bettie Sharpe:

Kindle || Printed version
Everyone loves Prince Charming. They have to—he’s cursed. Every man must respect him. Every woman must desire him. One look, and all is lost.

Ember would rather carve out a piece of her soul than be enslaved by passions not her own. She turns to the dark arts to save her heart and becomes the one woman in the kingdom able to resist the Prince’s Charm.

Poor girl. If Ember had spent less time studying magic and more time studying human nature, she might have guessed that a man who gets everything and everyone he wants will come to want the one woman he cannot have.

Like a Thief in The Night
Read an Excerpt || Kindle
She’s a heartless assassin; he’s an immortal thief. In another life, they would have been lovers. In this one, he’s her target and she’s his prize...

Death comes like a thief in the night. For reclusive thief Sevastien Aniketos, death comes in the form of slinky assassin Arden Black. But Aniketos has a surprise for his would-be killer—he is immortal. And he is about to turn the tables on the pragmatic femme fatale.

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