Review: The Cats of Tanglewod Forest


The Cats of Tanglewood Forest

by Charles De Lint, illustrated by Charles Vess

Find it at: Your Library | Amazon | Indiebound

Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (March 5, 2013)

Recommended reading age: 8 & up

In a nutshell: Take a glance at the cover of this book. Multiple cats, a fox, and something slightly magical about the glow coming from the forest and the reflection of the girl in the pond. Technically you’re not suppose to judge a book by it’s cover, but the cover of The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles De Lint, illustrated by Charles Vess, won me over with a few of my  favorite things.

“The magic is all around you, if only you open your eyes….”

Lillian Kindred lives on a farm with her aunt surrounded by a lush forest. During the day, in her time between chores Lillian runs through the forest to try and snatch a glimpse of the fairies she believes lives there. She also is sure to leave a saucer for all the stray cats that seem to hover around the farm and a piece of her breakfast biscuit for the Apple Tree Man, a mysterious old apple tree that she is certain s has a spirit.

One particular morning while wandering through the forest, Lillian finds a deer that she suddenly feels inclined to chase through the forest. After a long run she falls asleep under a beech tree that also happens to be occupied by a deadly snake that bites her while she slumbers. It would have been the end of Lillian (but it’s only the beginning of the story!), when the stray cats come to her attention. In her deathly delirium, she hears the cats arguing about whether or not to save her and when they agree to before it was too late Lillian is revived, but not as a girl. As a kitten.

Confused and upset, Lillian sets out to find a way to transform into a human again. Along the way she meets T.H. Reynolds (T.H. stands for “Truthful” and “Handsome”), a fox who agrees to help her. But what Lillian does not know is that to reverse her destiny means she will have to endure the consequences of her alternate destiny. A new path that could be devastating that would launch her into a new magical  journey of reversing the fates.

The style in which The Cats of Tanglewood Forest is written, it could have been plucked off a dusty bookshelf of old fairy tales and folk tales. There is a timelessness that is captivating and effortless to read. Charles De Lint has previously paired up with illustrator Charles Vess for many books, including A Circle of Cats, a picture book almost identical to The Cats of Tanglewood story released several years ago.

The book I read was an advanced reader copy, so I wasn’t able to enjoy the illuminating illustrations by Charles Vess until I happened to come across the book again at my local bookstore after it was released. It reminded me of how much I enjoy color illustrations in middle grade novels, which seems to be rare and old-fashioned.

My first Charles De Lint reading experience and certainly not my last. The Cats of Tanglewood Forest is a novel that would work wonderfully as a read aloud or as an independent afternoon read outside under a shady beech tree.

Just be sure to watch for snakes.

Don’t take my word for it: “Charles De Lint’s The Cats of Tanglewood Forest is an unforgettable folklore brimming with magic, extraordinary creatures, and filled with adventure.” – review from Mundie Kids

Extras: For more information on Charles De Lint and the books he has written can be found on his website. To view more of Charles Vess’ illustrations, check out the Little. Brown Books for Young Readers pinboard.

 Source of book reviewed: Advanced Reader Copy provided by the publisher, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
image sources: book illustrations from abingdon360


5 Responses to “Review: The Cats of Tanglewod Forest”

  1. Morgan says:

    Hi aunt Becca! :) I like your blog a lot!!!!!!!!!! Ok bye 😛

  2. Morgan says:

    Hi Becca:) I like your blog a lot!!!!!!!! Ok bye 😛

  3. pabkins says:

    I’m so glad I didn’t pick up the ARC then! I will be sure to nab this one up. I adore middlegrade for the illustrations – Oh Charles de Lint! If you want to give one of his adult books a try my FAV is Svaha – its a stand alone. Read the description it was so excellent.


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