The Cat Ninja: and a Cabal of Shadows – Book Review

A Fantastic Tails Adventure Book 2 by: Erik DeLeo
Published on: March 1, 2020

Clearly inspired by Brian Jacques’ Redwall series, Erik DeLeo has created a world where a cat and a mouse work together to secure jobs that require the special skills of a ninja and where humans may live in, but are never seen.

The story opens with Miko in the middle of a job where she has been hired to steal a rare Japanese coin. Scaling walls and walking in shadows with only her kobachi sword in paw. The night doesn’t end the way Miko or her mouse partner, Sukoshi, would have liked and now they are desperate for a paying job. After all, Sukoshi has 12 mouths to feed at home.

Not to long after Sukoshi is able to find a job that gives hope of a nice payout: A young puppy has gone missing and the mother is desperate to find who took her baby. But, the more Miko looks into the disappearance the more danger Miko and Sukoshi find themselves in.

Miko, our cat ninja, is a complex and compelling character. As the story progresses we learn more and more about what has made Miko into the cat she is today. When still a young kitten, she lost her mother and brother and this fact still haunts her and has defined who she has become. Now, her heart is dead set on revenge and she keeps her friends and others at a paws length, even as she fights against some of the negative tendencies. However, her reasons for revenge on one individual dog is never fully explained as we are only given a single name that caused the death of her mother, but never given any information as to how Miko came to this decision. As a reader I wasn’t sure if Miko was just jumping to conclusions or if the information was based on facts.

Although there is quite a bit of action that keeps the story moving forward, the center and heart of the story is Miko’s journey to forgive and open herself up to friendship. As a reader, I really enjoyed reading the story, but there were lingering questions about the cabal and other things that I felt it missed. The cabal is only seen or known about at the end of the story and you never quite see their full influence in society. I do think a second book would help flesh some of these things out.

Thanks to Netgalley and the author for an advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Description:

A missing puppy. An evil gang. And a hidden enemy lurking in the shadows.

She’s a cat. She’s a ninja. She’s a cat ninja. When Miko’s friend Sukoshi the field mouse comes calling with a new job, she agrees to investigate. But when it turns out the job entails helping the family an old enemy, little does Miko know that she’ll need to face her past in order to solve the case before it’s too late.

If you like talking animals, stealthy ninjas, and beating up bad guys, then you’ll love The Cat Ninja. This chapter book deals with many themes including anger, loss, abandonment, and fear. It is perfect for fans of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Redwall by Brian Jacques and The Green Ember by S.D. Smith, along with other fantasy series including The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Please check out the link for more middle grade book reviews.

7 thoughts on “The Cat Ninja: and a Cabal of Shadows – Book Review

  1. Thanks for sharing this book on MMGM—a book I hadn’t come across before. Animal characters are usually a big hit with middle grade readers.It does sound like a sequel would be welcome to tie up a few dangling elements.

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  2. I don’t usually like animal protagonists either, but this cat sounds like it has a lot of depth. I also like the whole ninja aspect. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

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  3. Completely Full Bookshelf

    This sounds like a neat spin on the average animal book! Also, I love that the book has a cat and mouse that get along (even if that isn’t realistically possible). Thanks for the great post!

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  4. Wish my great grandson was old enough for this book — he’s into ninjas. I like the heart of the story is about Miko’s journey to forgiveness — such an important theme. Otherwise you get stuck. Enjoyed your review!

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