cover image Catswold Portal, Yhe

Catswold Portal, Yhe

Shirley Rousseau Murphy. Roc, $22 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-451-45146-0

This delightful fantasy posits a Netherworld located under modern California and peopled by humans, mythological creatures--including Harpies and Griffons--and shape-changers such as the Catswold, who can shift between cat and human forms. In this land where technology fails but magic works, Melissa, a young woman with no memory of her past, goes to the city of Affandar, ruled by the cruel Queen Siddonie, to learn her history. Taking a strange interest in Melissa, the queen teaches her magic spells far superior to those of the common people. From an imprisoned Harpy she sets free, Melissa learns she is heir to the Catswold throne, but for her disobedience she is turned into her cat form and cast forth in the upperworld. There she is taken in as a pet by artist Braden West, who, unaware of her true nature, falls in love with her. Then Melissa discovers how to regain her human form and returns to the Netherworld pursued by Braden. Murphy, a writer of children's books, balances her rich, detailed Netherworld with a vividly characterized earthly realm. Her cat people, in particular, ring true. (Apr . )