Cat's Claw
Amber Benson
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Buy *Cat's Claw (A Calliope Reaper-Jones Novel)* by Amber Benson

Cat's Claw (A Calliope Reaper-Jones Novel)
Amber Benson
320 pages
February 2010
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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This is the second book (following Death's Daughter) to follow the adventures of Calliope Reaper-Jones. There is no need to read the first book in order to understand this one, because Callie tells the reader about her previous adventures when needed.

Even though Callie's father is the head of Death, Inc., she doesn't know much about the supernatural world at all. This is deliberate on her part; she has even gone so far as to place a forgetting charm on herself. However, during the course of the previous adventure, she was forced to come face to face with not only the existence of supernatural world but inheriting her father's job in it. She avoided that fate and is now trying to get on with her life.

Callie lives in a tiny New York City apartment and has a job that barely keeps her in rent and food. still, she prefers her independent if poor mortal life to being dependent on her father in the supernatural world. Then Madame Papillon and Minx Muna appear in Callie's tiny kitchen. Madame Papillon is the top aura specialist in the world, and Callie's father has sent her to teach Callie to use her powers. Unfortunately, the old woman notices something alarming: Callie's aura is intertwined with someone else's. Callie realizes that this can only be Daniel, with whom Callie was - well, close before he died during their previous adventure. Madame Papillon has even more surprising news; she thinks that Daniel isn't dead after all.

Callie has to find out if it's true, so she goes to the one person who can find out the truth: her younger sister, Clio. After Callie travels to the huge family mansion, she is confronted with a summons. Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog of Hell's North Gate, has called in the favor that Callie owes him.

Cat's Claw unfolds in a conversational first-person style, and Callie uses “Valley speak” dialect. She's also very fashion conscious and talks about designer labels and movie stars. Unfortunately, she cannot afford the clothes and purses she wants. The one time she buys a great new pair of boots, she has to go to Hell - where they are, of course, ruined. Because she has deliberately distanced herself from her father's job, she is ignorant of her own powers and the way that the supernatural world works. She tends to act - and speak - before thinking, traits that work against her in the end. Unlike many other fantasy heroines, Callie has no fighting abilities. She defeats her adversaries with luck and wits.

The plot is fast-paced with a lot of twists. Callie travels quickly from Hell to the Halls of Death and other dimensions, meeting many strange people along the way. Her father's Executive Assistant is a fussy faun named Jarvis who is Callie's friend and mentor to the magical world. Callie and Clio own a Hellhound puppy, Runt, who should be able to talk soon. In Hell, she meets a little puppy dog who turns out to be a friendly boy-monster's pet. Both Egyptian and Hindu deities make appearances as well (the Goddess Kali is on the board of directors of Death, Inc.).

Unfortunately, occasional info-dumps slow the pace. The supernatural places are imaginative, but Callie doesn't spend much time in any of them. She also doesn't change much at all during the story and makes some stupid mistakes. The twists follow each other quickly, and she doesn't have time to adjust to one before she is confronted with another. Sometimes it feels like she has forgotten the important thing she was supposed to do because she has to rush onto the next important mission (for example, the intertwined auras are forgotten for most of the rest of the book). Callie turns out to be quite a curious young woman, so it's a little weird that she isn't curious about magic. Overall, though, Cat's Claw is a fun and funny read with lots of quirky characters in an imaginative world.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Mervi Hamalainen, 2011

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