A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: A sweet and emotional retelling of the well-know fairytale, this book mixed Western and Japanese mythology in an interesting way.
An M/M Fairy Tale for the Modern Reader
Willem’s father never approved of his artistic talents, his choices in life, or the fact that he’s gay. When the only thing Horst leaves to Willem is the family cat, he thinks it’s his father’s last insult from the grave. That is, until the cat starts talking to him.
Though Willem’s lost his boyfriend, his home, and his job, Kasha, who claims to be a magic cat, reassures him that all will be well. All he needs is Willem’s trust and a good pair of boots. He soon discovers giving boots to a talking cat has unexpected consequences when odd events ambush him at every turn, such as the appearance of a handsome stranger in his arms at night. While he begins to suspect Kasha’s plans might be dangerous for all involved, how can he distrust such a charming kitty in cowboy boots?
Willem Aufderheide’s life has fallen to pieces around his ears recently. First he lost his job as a welder, then he caught his boyfriend in bed with another man, and the ensuing DUI cost him his license. As if this wasn’t enough, Willems father died, and while Will’s brothers inherit at least moderately valuable things, Willem only gets three-hundred dollars cash. Well, and the family cat, Puss. Jobless, homeless and almost penniless, Willem teeters on the edge of despair. When Puss suddenly starts to talk to him, Willem thinks he has lost his mind to top it all. But he soon realizes that instead of robbing him of everything, fate has gifted him with something invaluable, something even more precious than the magic of a charmed cat.
The author took the familiar European literary fairytale and gave it an interesting exotic twist by adding in elements of Japanese mythology. This was brilliantly done; the different lores fit seamlessly together, making a fresh and original fantasy tale. Puss, the cat, is really a kasha, a Japanese cat demon, banished from the realms of the Gods by Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, for defying her. Now Kasha has to live among humans, only getting to use his magic when someone claims him by giving him shoes. This has happened frequently over the centuries. Sometimes Kasha was sent by higher forces to fulfill a task, and sometimes a magically gifted human figured him out and claimed him on his own. Some of them forced Kasha to do cruel things, some used him as a sex toy – in his human form – but all of Kasha’s human masters only regarded him as a tool, something they abandoned after they’d reached their selfish goals.
Willem is different. For one, he is totally, inanely good, so good it borders on naive. He lets his cheating boyfriend keep their apartment and furniture, and when said boyfriend calls for his help, Willem hurries at his side, and forgives him. And then, Willem has no idea what Kasha is. Sure, he finds out soon enough that there’s a lot more to the old Puss than he’d thought, but he merely goes with the flow when his cat suddenly starts to speak and demands Willem buy him boots. Willem is a bit of a drifter, a dreamer, something that fits his artist’s soul very well. He’s a gifted sculptor who can make art out of everything at hand, even an old tuna can. Witnessing this, and learning that it’s the desire of Willem’s heart to study art, Kasha has his task laid out for him, and goes about it with determination. It’s his duty as a claimed Kasha, but he has also taken to Willem, more than to any of his other masters before. Willem won’t use him, but instead treats him with respect and takes care of him. During their lovemaking, Willem doesn’t show disgust since parts of Kasha remain feline, but simply accepts him as he is, down to his habit to keep the boots on even in bed. Soon, duty turns into devotion for Kasha, to a point where he’d willingly sacrifice everything for his master’s happiness – even his own heart, and even his life.
This was a really enjoyable reading experience. I liked the way this story was playfully peppered with clichés and allusions, from the seme/uke theme to the clueless fairytale princess (which, in this case, is a prince), from the German-sounding names to the magic number three to the dual nature of Japanese deities and so on. And on top of being a skillfully spun- out fantasy, this was a romantic, and highly erotic, lovestory. It was funny, heartbreaking, wise, sweet, and yes, magic too. Of course, the magic came handy to solve our heroes’s biggest problem, but even this was done in a way that fit the logic of the story. My only niggle was a, to me, overly sweet ending, but I can see others loving this book all the more just for that. I can warmly recommend this entertaining read.