Sarah's Stars

Julia Golding. Cat O’ Nine Tails
Egmont  $16.95  ISBN 978 1 4052 3046 9  379 pg.
Reviewed by Meghan, Age 16

I descended the stairs with the duchess to where the gentlemen were waiting. Mr Dixon, dressed in a coat of dark blue – a colour that became him very well – stepped forward to take my had.

‘As I predicted, Miss Royal, you do us all credit.’

Frank, for once also smartly turned out, cast a strange look at me, making me wonder if I had got something wrong.

‘What’s the matter?’ I asked, glancing anxiously at my feet. I couldn’t spot anything amiss.

'No, Cat, you look…you look very well.’ Frank’s face flushed as if he’d said something embarrassing. He then moved away from me and climbed into the carriage without waiting. Mr Dixon hurriedly covered for his cousin’s ill manners by handing me into the coach as the duke escorted his wife. Frank was looking at his nails as I took my seat beside him.

‘What’s going on?’ I whispered, completely baffled.

Seeing we were unobserved as his father made a fuss of settling the duchess’s fur cape around her, Frank took my hand in its white kid glove and gave it a squeeze. ‘It’s just…you have to understand, Cat, I’ve seen you dressed as a boy, covered in bruises, as a ballerina, a Quaker, and all the time you looked like you. But tonight, you don’t. You’re someone else. It’s…it’s just a lot to get used to. I’m sorry.’

Suddenly I began to have doubts about the evening. Did I wasn’t to be this new person – this lady – that had shocked Frank more than any of my other guises?

The infamous Cat Royal is back for yet another side-splitting, rollicking adventure. While the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane is being rebuilt, Cat and Pedro make their home with Frank and his parents, the Duke and Duchess of Avon. Cat is bored out of her mind until an unpleasant meeting with the loathsome Billy Shepherd and a worried letter from Syd Fletcher’s mother send her once more into action. While trying to find Syd, who has mysteriously disappeared, on a tip from Billy, Cat, Frank and Pedro are press-ganged into his Majesty’s Service. But life in the Royal Navy isn’t smooth sailing; especially for Cat who has to pretend she’s a boy. At the mercy of a dishonest sailor taking payments from someone who wants Frank dead, Cat’s got to be quicker than every to keep herself, and her friends, alive.  

Once again Julia Golding brings the story of the clever, quirky, lovable Cat Royal to life. Cat O’ Nine Tails is the fourth book in the series staring the courageous heroine from London’s poorest classes. Set in the late 1700’s Cat Royal’s story takes us from the beginning of her life as an orphan living backstage at the Theatre Royal to heights of deception and intrigue both in England and across the channel. Now Cat’s latest book takes readers to the America’s, where Cat finds some strange new friends and, as always, just manages to keep her skin.

Julia Golding began her career studying English in Cambridge. She then worked in Poland as a diplomat before taking a doctorate in the literature of the English Romantic period at Oxford. She has also spent time as a lobbyist on conflict issues, campaigning to lessen the impact of conflict on civilians living in war zones. With this colourful background to support her Julia Golding has now written ten novels. In the Cat Royal series, The Diamond of Drury Lane was the winner of the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and the Nestlé Children’s Book Prize, as well as being shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award.

The Cat Royal books are funny and entertaining, books you will immediately fall in love with. In my opinion there is nothing better to read, curled up on a rainy afternoon, than a Cat Royal. The endearing qualities of the characters as well as the fast-paced entertaining, and oft-times hilarious, plot keep a reader begging for more. I would highly recommend Cat O’ Nine Tails as well as the three previous books in the series, The Diamond of Drury Land, Cat among the Pigeons and Den of Thieves. I continue to recommend Cat O’ Nine Tails for girls (although I’m sure some boys would also enjoy it) from the age of twelve and up.

Five stars for Cat O’ Nine Tails.

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