I am finally back with more book content! While sticking to fantasy books this month for Wyrd & Wonder, it seemed like a good time to revisit a classic fantasy tale. Plus I misread one of the prompts, ‘Magic Casters’, as ‘Magic Cats’, so I was looking for fresh cat magic to talk about. Tailchaser’s Song is a book that I almost couldn’t finish as a teen, and now as an adult it’s a whole different reading experience.
Let’s take a look at the book then I’ll share some brief thoughts
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Tailchaser’s Song
- Series: Standalone
- Author: Tad Williams
- Publisher & Release: DAW – originally 1985, reissue edition 2000
- Length: 333 pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ if you love stories about animals
Here’s the blurb:
Fifteen years ago, a young author surprised and enchanted readers with his first novel—the story of Fritti Tailchaser, a courageous tom cat in a world of whiskery heroes and villains, of feline gods and strange, furless creatures called M’an.
The book was Tailchaser’s Song, the author was Tad Williams.The legend was born
-From the 2000 reissue edition
A Quick Note On the Audiobook:
Narrated by Alex Kydd, it runs a little over 13 hours and is released by Tantor Media. I personally liked Kydd’s narration and gave the overall experience ⭐⭐⭐⭐. At least at the time of this writing you can listen free as part of the Audible Plus subscription
It’s an odd feeling to come back to this book as an adult. To me it always felt like TS Eliot meets The Hobbit, but with cats.
As a teen I remember being mortified by all the dead, dying, and maimed animals. For a book about a cat quest to find his lost friend, Tailchaser gets pretty dark towards the end.
Even as an adult I still find it disturbing in places. A reanimated corpse made of dying and dead animals? Omg. And I felt constantly awful for poor Pouncequick who is like the cutest little kitten but also the punching bag of the story.
Other than a pile of corpses and animals killing each other like humans do in similar books, it’s a decent story. You obviously have to root for the characters (except Hushpad) because they’re adorable cats. There’s plenty of action once the story gets going, you just have to wade through a lot of introduction and cat stuff to get there.
One thing I appreciate more as an adult is the language and cultural creation. I love when authors go crazy creating language for their fictional worlds. Williams made a whole different world of cat culture, naming conventions, speech patterns etc, for the world and it’s pretty darn well thought out. This includes alternate pronunciations within the cat language and a glossary in the original edition. He also creates tons of legends and origin stories for The Folk which I enjoyed. Many different authors and poets are quoted at the chapter intros too. I’m not sure if that aspect distracted or added but I liked them.
My last thought is about world building in animal stories. It’s hard to accomplish a good build because the author is limited to the point of view and understanding of the animal characters. I think Williams nailed it here though with the legends and stories and using setting to relate the cats’ world views, without overdoing it and bringing in unnecessary information that’s not relevant to the characters.
Overall, this is a fun coming of age adventure. It gets darker than I’d expect and has enough depth to keep readers of any age interested throughout.
(Now pardon me while I open up a refuge for all the animals brutalized by Hearteater in cat hell 😭)
Thanks for checking out my book and audiobook review of Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams. I do own a copy but listened this time on Audible through my subscription. As always, all opinions are my own ♥️