Author: Vanessa Morgan
Category: Adult Horror
Date: 1 March 2018
Clervaux, Luxembourg. This secluded, picturesque town in the middle of Europe is home to more cats than people. For years, tourists have flocked to this place – also known as “cat haven” – to meet the cats and buy cat-related souvenirs.
When Aidan, Jess and their five-year-old daughter, Eleonore, move from America to Clervaux, it seems as if they’ve arrived in paradise. It soon becomes clear, though, that the inhabitants’ adoration of their cats is unhealthy. According to a local legend, each time a cat dies, nine human lives are taken as a punishment. To tourists, these tales are supernatural folklore, created to frighten children on cold winter nights. But for the inhabitants of Clervaux, the danger is darkly, horrifyingly real.
Initially, Aidan and Jess regard this as local superstition, but when Jess runs over a cat after a night out in the town, people start dying, one by one, and each time it happens, a clowder of cats can be seen roaming the premises.
Are they falling victim to the collective paranoia infecting the entire town? Or is something horrible waiting for them? Something unspeakably evil.
Aidan and Jess’ move to Europe may just have been the worst decision they ever made.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This book has content warnings for cat death, human death, gore, car accidents, physical violence, and toxic relationships.
This book was a mixed bag for me because while I thought the premise was fascinating and thought that the horror aspects of the book were really good and creepy, I felt frustrated with much of the rest of the book. To start with, I could not stand Aidan. After the move to Clervaux he almost immediately started cheating on Jess, whom he dragged to a different continent with him. (I also had a LOT of issues with the woman that Aidan was “seduced” by being a Latina-coded, stereotypical homewrecker. She was the only person in the book that was coded as a person of color, and that felt very icky to me because OF COURSE the cheating isn’t the white man’s fault…) His tone was also irritating and he was overall pretty boring. Jess was a little better, but not by much; it was clear that she cared about her child and her relationship, but her behaviors bothered me a lot and she was also difficult to read.
I also had issues with literally every other character in this book that was not either a child or a feline… Eleonore was fine and didn’t bother me because she acted like a small child could be expected to. Everybody else got on my nerves at all times. What frustrated me the most, I think, was how literally no one bothered to even try to explain to the newcomers (Aidan and Jess) why the town had rules against killing cats. This was written off as “too difficult to do” by one of the characters, but it just seemed silly because it’s written in the book description and telling someone a legend should not be that difficult. This really weird aversion to actually explaining what was going on to these characters was an okay mystery at first, but it got really tired really quickly and made the pacing feel very off.
I did enjoy the legend itself and the cats and the horror aspects of the book, but these didn’t really shine through because so much effort was put into masking these elements and making the book feel more like a mystery than a horror story. I think I would have liked this book a whole lot better if all humans were removed from the book and it was just the cats. With this town’s luck and history, it seems like this could be something that happens eventually anyway.
Final rating: 2.5 of 5 stars