author : danny fahey
pages : [paperback] 248
favorite characters : catalina & peter
One day the orphan Catalina is taken home by her lone surviving relative, Aunt Griselda. Unfortunately for Catalina, all does not quite go as expected. Her aunt hates her and makes her life miserable. She learns she is to be sold to Stefano the Knife-thrower and used as a human target. To escape a certain death, Catalina leaps through a mysterious crossover point and ends up in a new land called Arboroth. There, she is encounters a wolf-boy and a talking rat. She is beset by a cruel and inhospitable landscape, and all the while hunted by a pack of relentless hounds. Then Catalina discovers her aunt is also in Arboroth. And Griselda isn’t happy.
This is a fantasy tale of magic, of an evil witch and a little girl who just wants to know who she is.
I love fairy tales! Catalina is told in the story of all of the tales that we love, with an evil witch, an innocent girl who has the potential to change everything, and of course a boy. But Catalina is also unconventional and original. The girl does not come into her own power easily and she does not know that the wolf-boy might be the way through which she can save both herself and the world she has never had the chance to know. This book is both a whirlwind adventure and a tale that seems inherently familiar in that it speaks with the same sort of voice used in well-known fairy tales.
The evil entity of Catalina fixates on the witch and Stefano. I like how each of them is complicated in their own right while neither is all-powerful, though Griselda has been able to accomplish much through her black magic. Stefano is her minion and while both aim to hurt Catalina, Griselda cannot hurt her directly, which explains why this tale can be told in the first place and doesn’t end halfway through the narrative.
I loved all of the magical and mystical elements of the novel and how they are different from everything that I’ve ever read before. Just like in any fairy tale, not everything is explained fully, which can be frustrating, but I like how this fits into the mold.
Peter was such a lovely character! I feel terrible for what happened to him and Catalina and readers will be rooting for them from the beginning. Even if they are young, they can no longer afford to be naive, and it is this strength which really drives the book and brings it to its wonderful conclusion.
I give Catalina 5/5 stars. It was wonderful, and I know many people will enjoy it as much as I did!