cover image Under the Cat's Eye: A Tale of Morph and Mystery

Under the Cat's Eye: A Tale of Morph and Mystery

Gillian Rubinstein. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81800-4

In this provocative fantasy set in an insidious boarding school, a few free-spirited children challenge the cruelty (and in this case, necromancy) of the administration. Jai comes to Nexhoath when his parents are deported back to India as illegal aliens. He is quickly befriended by two rebellious students who believe the headmaster is stealing the souls of the children. Jai isn't sure he believes them, and he has adopted his family's practice of not calling attention to himself: ""He thought of what his parents had said about trying to fit in. But they hadn't known Mr. Drake was some kind of cannibal drackle. If he really was."" Jai is also being watched by some mysterious kitchen servants who appear to have qualities more animal than human, and who treat Jai like someone special. Rubinstein (Foxspell) employs the devices of classic fantasy with intelligence and authority. A wardrobelike door provides entry to a series of alternative worlds that have a coherent and intriguing relationship to one another, and the nefarious headmaster's evil doings become revealed in a clever plot twist. Despite a satisfying conclusion, this one will have fantasy fans clamoring for a sequel--which seems likely, since many of the ""worlds of Nexhoath"" remain unexplored at the story's end. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)