Carabas – Sophie Masson
Hodder SF/Fantasy, 1996
When the people of Catou’s village turn against her, recognising in her a strangeness they can neither trust of understand, the only voice raised against the mob is Frederic’s and he is repaid for his kindness by being banished with her. But Catou’s problems are greater than he suspects. She is one of the matagot, a shapechanger, and there is a destiny on her that will sweep Frederic into a world the like of which he could never have imagined. But will Catou let him keep it? And what price is there to be paid for a life built on lies?
Retellings of the fairy tale ‘Puss in Boots’ are not so common as others from Charles Perrault’s collection, such as ‘Cinderella’ and ‘The Beauty and the Beast’. Masson has an interesting take on the title character, turning her ‘Puss’ into a shapechanging girl with mysterious origins, and there are some other enjoyable inversions that keep the story moving in interesting directions. Unfortunately, there is a shallowness to the characters that makes them difficult to like or care about, and the book suffers as a result. Carabas is intriguing, but there’s no heart to hold it together.