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Book: Tamsin

October 20, 2010

So I really wanted to *love* all of this book and I *almost* did (and I’m not really sure why I wasn’t completely 100% head over heels for it — I think it had to do with my expectations, but more on that later), but there are two reasons why I truly loved parts of this book:

1. Mister Cat (real cat)

2. Miss Sophia Brown (ghost cat)

A super-cool black kitty and a super-fluffy ghost kitty (who steals real-kitty’s heart) — what’s not to love, come on! Add in a pooka, a boggart, the Wild Hunt, the Black Dog, a falling-apart English farm and a slightly snarky heroine, and you’ve got yourself a darn fine book.

Oh, and then there’s Tamsin, and the Judge, and that other guy. Oh, and they were ghosts. Just in case they seemed like, you know, flesh-and-blood characters. Thereby sort of negating the ghosty-effect. Yeah. I think there’s the rub.

So the thing is, this is supposed to be a really great ghost story. And it is a really great *story.* But the ghosts were so well-developed that they didn’t seem like ghosts at all, but more like time-travellers, more like real people. So the whole ghosty thing sort of was wasted. But I’m being really picky here, because ghost-like or not, it was a great story.

This is my first Peter Beagle story, too. I think I have a copy of The Last Unicorn somewhere (unless I got rid of it in the move, which I hope I didn’t)… I haven’t read this yet because I seem to recall that it’s pretty sad (what I’ve heard of it). I didn’t used to be this averse to sad stories, but I have a thing about unicorns (hey! I was a kid in the late 70s, early 80s, gimme a break) and ack, all the sad unicorn stories in the world! So I haven’t been able to read it yet. However, I totally want to read some other Beagle books, they all sound amazing.

What I liked about the story was how accessible the characters were. Each was carefully drawn and filled out, and very likable. Well, except for the Judge. And he wasn’t really scary enough, frankly. I didn’t really buy that whole story. And I thought Tamsin was kind of boring too. But I really liked Jenny, the narrator, and loved Meena, her best friend, and Evan and Norris and Sally and everybody else. Tamsin herself was a little too Ye Olde and fragmented. Which I guess is the ghosty part.

But the ghost kitty, and Mister Cat — they stole the show.Totally. Mister Cat is one of the best book-cats I’ve come across in a long time. I also really liked the pooka.

I’m eager to read another Beagle novel and see more of his gentle storytelling. I think I might be a new fan, even if I was hoping for something a bit more ghosty for this ghost story.


6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2010 8:49 pm

    You know, while I love this book, it wasn’t perfect and I agree with some of what you say. I thought the Judge was an odd fit to the real charm of the book which of course were the gentle ghosts of Tamsin, her fiance, and the cat.

    If you haven’t seen The Last Unicorn on video, then you are in for a treat – that is worth seeking out. It’s based on the book, and has fabulous art and actors. I read the book ages ago, and keep meaning to reread it. Some day!

  2. October 20, 2010 8:51 pm

    Susan! So nice to “see” you! Your reviews were some of the reason I read this book. I really did enjoy it, there were just a few small points I didn’t love. I have seen bits and pieces of The Last Unicorn movie and I can’t wait to watch it.

  3. October 21, 2010 1:54 pm

    I’ve not read Tamsin, sounds like fun though. I have read The Last Unicorn during my teenage all things unicorn phase and loved it.

    • October 21, 2010 8:04 pm

      I think I might have to dig around and find that, now.

  4. October 21, 2010 8:00 pm

    I’ve never heard of this book…or author. Is there a series?

    • October 21, 2010 8:04 pm

      I don’t think so, but he’s sort of 1970s-famous for The Last Unicorn, and has written quite a few books and short stories. This was my first Beagle, but I need to read some more now!

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