The Turning: What Curiosity Kills, by Helen Ellis

This might be a stretch, but I'm including a novel about shape-shifting cats in my Halloween read-a-thon. I realize were-kittens aren't quite as threatening as zombies or whatever, but they fall somewhere along the monster spectrum, right? (On, like, the cuter end...?)

The heroine of Helen Ellis's The Turning: What Curiosity Kills is 10th grader Mary Richards, a former foster kid adopted by a wealthy and loving Upper East Side couple. When Mary starts to have inexplicable fevers that end with thick fur sprouting from her body, she's understandably freaked—and determined to hide it from her prep-school peers for as long as possible. Unfortunately, her bizarre problem is rapidly getting worse, and her body seems to be building up for a total transformation...

The early chapters of The Turning are promising: Mary is a sympathetic heroine, there are hints of intriguing sexual chemistry, and idea of shape-shifting cats is fun. Unfortunately, the plot totally disintegrates less than halfway through, when the author stops relying on creepy atmosphere and has to actually, y'know, explain stuff. The mythology makes zero sense, all of the romantic relationships are woefully undeveloped, and the entire second half feels like a rough draft of a longer, smarter, and more coherent story. I was still sufficiently invested to see if Ellis had written any sequels (maybe stuff would start making sense in book 2!), but sorry, cat fans: this series seems to have died an early and quiet death.
Posted by: Julianka


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