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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cat Is Purring. Be afraid. Be VERY afraid. (No spoilers, only lures)
Lynne Truss has written a witty, scary, oddball, corpse-filled ,literature-loving, perfectly-punctuated, (I assume) , delight of a book.

The problem is – I can’t say very much about it without spoiling the journey which you, dear reader, need to make for yourself, without your own voyage of discovery being marred by inadvertent and carelessly strewn...
Published 6 months ago by Lady Fancifull

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars High Sneering from a Pompous Bore
Recovering from the recent loss of his wife, Alec is holidaying in a cottage in Norfolk. He has taken with him 'notes' passed to him for no clear reason by a Dr Winterton. The various papers are of mixed origin but tell the story of Wiggy and Roger. WIggy, is an elderly gentleman who has recently lost his sister, a renowned watercolourist. Roger is a talking cat...
Published 3 months ago by Kartowidjojo


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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cat Is Purring. Be afraid. Be VERY afraid. (No spoilers, only lures), 25 Feb 2014
By 
This review is from: Cat out of Hell (Hardcover)
Lynne Truss has written a witty, scary, oddball, corpse-filled ,literature-loving, perfectly-punctuated, (I assume) , delight of a book.

The problem is – I can’t say very much about it without spoiling the journey which you, dear reader, need to make for yourself, without your own voyage of discovery being marred by inadvertent and carelessly strewn spoilers by this (or any) reviewer.

I was one of the very lucky ones, getting this as a very early ARC from the publisher, and all I had to go on, was this, from the fairly minimalist (great, no spoilers!) blurb:

“By acclaimed storyteller Lynne Truss, author of the bestselling Eats, Shoots and Leaves, the mesmerising tale of a cat with nine lives, and a relationship as ancient as time itself and just as powerful.

The scene: a cottage on the coast on a windy evening. Inside, a room with curtains drawn. Tea has just been made. A kettle still steams. Under a pool of yellow light, two figures face each other across a kitchen table. A man and a cat. The story about to be related is so unusual yet so terrifyingly plausible that it demands to be told in a single sitting. The man clears his throat, and leans forward, expectant.

'Shall we begin?' says the cat.”

I must admit, the dustjacket picture didn’t particularly lure me – I thought it a little bit whimsical, and feared something which might be chocolate box cutesy humour funny-ish.

But of course, I know Truss is sharp, dry and pithily rather than fluffily funny.

The story is dedicated to a friend who likes ‘proper’ horror stories, so, clearly this is going to be some sort of tickle your funny bone with horror mixture. (And more)

Okay, to try and lure you, o reader. Your cast of characters includes the above-mentioned talking cat (and another), an endearing dog (more of whom I must not say in order to avoid a spoiler) except that he belongs to a couple of academic Cambridge University librarians and is called Watson, so is the butt of several jokes which will delight Sherlockians. Then there is the central human, recently bereaved, in a Norfolk holiday cottage, with his laptop, no internet access but a previously sent folder from a fellow librarian. There is an actor who is a little slow on the uptake.There are a good few bodies. There are copious classic literature references (our man is a librarian, after all) . There is academic and historical research into occult literature.

Even if you are remarkably unacquainted and uninterested in library stacks, Victorian fiction, the history of occultism, Egyptology, demonology or preconceptions about cats and dogs, this book will I think be a page turning delight. Believe me. Our talking cat doesn’t do chat, for example, but masters Times cryptic crosswords and is highly supercilious (and other things)

As for the dedication to the friend who likes ‘proper’ horror stories, suffice it to say that in bed early in the morning, having fed the cats, and enjoying my breakfast cuppa, with a cat nestling cosily beside me I read this (I have made a few excisions to avoid spoilers)

“The exceptional cats…..aren’t the product of some sort of miracle…..they just haven’t degenerated the way all the others have….this explains such a lot about cat behaviour….When they hiss at us, you can tell that they really expect us to fall over and die…because that is what used to happen. So when we stand there, unharmed, and laughing in their faces, they’re completely miffed…..they’re conscious of having lost their ability to do serious evil, and they feel bloody humiliated”

At which point, cosy nestling cat began to talk….”Mrr…Mhaa…Mmmaaaahhr” and I must admit I had a slight ‘hairs up’ moment at the timing, and she continued to utter short little cat exclamations for no reason I could discern. Then she climbed onto my lap, gazed at me seriously, as she is wont to do, and began kneading and purring. I read on….

“You know the way cats do that trampling sort of thing on your lap……It was how cats used to kill people by pretending to be friendly and then severing their femoral arteries! Purring was the way they sent people into a trance…..”

At which point, I discreetly (not wanting to anger her) but purposefully got up and had a shower.

There is so much to enjoy in this, and I hope that I have persuaded you to read it, on publication. Believe me, this is nothing like any of those wonderful, but whimsical Paul Gallico cat books, and DEFINITELY nothing like the ‘spiritual’ fluffy cat books currently in vogue

I did feel that the final section managed the balance of horror and humour rather less well – the detecting and investigation part of the story was terrific, but the inevitable confrontation between antagonists, once deduction has happened, did see my extreme enjoyment wane a bit. I felt Truss was rather better at slow set up than at rapid action. Overall though, I absolutely recommend this

PS Any one interested in giving a home to 3 extremely good natured cats? I don’t THINK any of them know how to read emails. Well I hope not. Was that scratching behind the wainscoting………..?

Oh – and finally, such is the authenticity of Truss’s writing that even though I know (don’t I?) that this IS a fantasy, I was interested in seeing what had been thrown up in the research, and Googled some of the named characters and search terms cited by our academician and found……….(well, that would be telling, and maybe YOU will just have to see for yourself!)

PS Aficionados of Truss’s’ grammatical works: any crimes of MY grammar and punctuation above, are to be deplored. Please DON’T tell Truss about my linguistic offences.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars High Sneering from a Pompous Bore, 3 Jun 2014
This review is from: Cat out of Hell (Hardcover)
Recovering from the recent loss of his wife, Alec is holidaying in a cottage in Norfolk. He has taken with him 'notes' passed to him for no clear reason by a Dr Winterton. The various papers are of mixed origin but tell the story of Wiggy and Roger. WIggy, is an elderly gentleman who has recently lost his sister, a renowned watercolourist. Roger is a talking cat.

Roger the cat literally has nine lives, and through the notes we get some hint of Roger's life, along with his cat mentor, the Captain as they move the 20th century, leaving a trail of death in their wake.

Doubtless there are hidden depths to this rubbish, and Truss's style (high sneering) is evident throughout. The story is told in a mix of voices, all of which are `bumbling'. The work is complete waste of time, and I see no reason to discuss it further,
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1.0 out of 5 stars One of the laziest writing efforts I've ever seen, 30 Mar 2014
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Cat out of Hell (Hardcover)
Alec, a retired librarian and recent widower, is taking a break in a coastal village to get over his recent bereavement and decides to look into a laptop filled with information given to him by a fellow librarian. Inside the laptop are files that tell the story of an actor called Wiggy and his acquaintance with Roger - a talking cat. Roger’s story spans decades, years in which his supernatural longevity, intelligence and speech were down to a mysterious cat called the Captain and a Satanic cat cult. And Alec is soon to realise his wife’s death wasn’t an accident - the hellcats are coming for him next!

Cat Out Of Hell is one of the laziest novels I’ve read in a while. I’ve never read a Lynne Truss book before so I can’t say if this is her usual style but it reads like it was a frenzied NaNoWriMo effort (National Novel Writing Month where people try to write a 50k word novel during the month of November) thrown together in bursts of typing over actual creativity. Characters splutter exposition through one badly constructed scene after another without a hint of a plot with key details left out with no attempt at making it seem like a cohesive whole.

This is what it feels like was racing through the author’s mind as she hacked this one out: there’s this evil cat cult - people dying! - Roger’s evil - no, wait the Captain’s evil - no wait, the cat cult is evil - no wait the evil librarian is evil - no, the evil librarian’s the head honcho - why did that character die, never mind, they’re dead, they were never “characters” anyway! - why did that character do that action even though it went against their flimsily created character, never mind, moving on - why did we suddenly jump ahead 70 years, NEVER MIND!!! - wait, why did Roger and the Captain fall out despite being besties for years? - NEVER MIND, KEEP GOING!!!! Done? Thank god! Well, no need to go back and make sure it reads well, I’ll just send this off and get on with my life. Cheque please!

It’s madness! You can follow what’s happening but the narrative skips and jumps for no reason. When Truss builds up to an interesting scene like a heist or a murder mystery reveal, she skips it and jumps ahead to the aftermath - probably because that’s easier to write - before going back to the safety of Alec or Wiggy’s overly chatty, rather scatterbrained narration.

The ending is also a massive let down. Events stumble clumsily to the final act and then, just when I thought it couldn’t possibly be this predictable, Truss MUST do something a little different to make things at least a bit interesting, she opts instead for exactly the least original choice. Other bizarre creative decisions in the narrative involve switching from first person narration to email exchanges, screenplay scenes, and something downright sickening called an “e-miaow” (definitely the only horror element in the novel), for no reason!

Truss’ ideas about the long living, talking cats could barely be called ideas. If you’re a cat owner you’ll know they have a habit of kneading their paws on you - Truss spins it so that cats used to have powers to kill humans and the non-powered cats do this expecting you to die and are disappointed when you don’t. Hmm, heard that before. Or how about their superior attitude that seems completely undeserved? Well, they used to have powers and… zzz… Ho hum.

Truss even seems aware of her languorous efforts and addresses them in the text itself: “I no longer care much about the gaps in this story, so I hope you don’t either.” So there you go - any gaps in the story won’t be addressed and neither will the stuff that didn’t make sense. But she “thoroughly enjoyed writing it, so there you are.” Alright guys? Up yours! I put more effort and thought into writing this review than Truss did in the entire novel.

Cat Out Of Hell isn’t horror, it’s dreary nothing. It’s not comedy either, I didn’t see any jokes in the text. It completely fails at the two genres it attempts. It’s grammatically sound, as you’d expect from the author of Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, but what a pitiful positive that is to say about a novel! Cat Out Of Hell is a rushed, poorly conceived and even more poorly executed hack job that I wouldn’t even line my cat’s litter tray with. If you want to read an interesting talking cat story, check out Saki’s short story, Tobermory instead.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, funny, and finely plotted., 28 Feb 2014
This review is from: Cat out of Hell (Kindle Edition)
This is very different to what you might expect from the author of Eats, Shoots. While it has the light and humorous touch that all her writing has, she has managed to embrace her darker side. It is really tightly plotted with great characterisation (one of whom only gets two lines - or does he?). Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not what you expect! :), 28 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Cat out of Hell (Kindle Edition)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's not what you expect. The story is told through the eyes of the cat and through the eyes of the other characters, which I thought was a unique way of story telling. There is not too many characters to keep track of. It's also funny in some sections, and easily readable.

I hope there will be a second book and certainly will be looking at the other books Lynne Truss has written.

If you like my review then please tick yes. Happy reading! :)
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beelzebubbles along, 27 Mar 2014
By 
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This review is from: Cat out of Hell (Kindle Edition)
This is good fun: I haven't read any 'proper' horror, so I don't know whether or not this should be classed as parody, or if it's usually done in this tone.

There's a suitably unnecessary framing device, a totally preposterous character, an intriguing enough plot, and a satisfying conclusion - all executed with wit and verve.

I loved that librarians, of all people, are at the centre of such an adventure, and there are lots and lots of sly jokes throughout.

Good fun, good value, good buy.

Felicitous. And I'm not even a cat person. Purrrr.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bad cat!, 17 Mar 2014
This review is from: Cat out of Hell (Kindle Edition)
Even devoted cat fans will admit that there are times when their beloved ball of fur gives them An Evil Look. This is a look so malevolent that even Satan would be impressed. I wonder if Lynne Truss, being the recipient of An Evil Look, began to ponder ...

Witty and amusing, with briefly sketched but well-delineated characters (I particularly liked Wiggy), Cat Out Of Hell somehow managed to frighten me more than any ghost story I have read recently. There is that terrible feeling of being helpless whilst your doom approaches and as Alec's doom is a large fluffy cat no-one is likely to believe him. This, of course, just makes his situation worse. Lynne Truss manages to twist cats' habits and natures into something far more diabolical, but at the same time quite credible. I laughed out loud at the idea that cats knead our legs not as a sign of affection, but as a historical throwback to their technique of killing people by severing their femoral arteries. Then I began to panic as my cat not only kneads me but also chews my collar at the same time ... is he going for my jugular?

This is quite a hard review to write, as I am trying to avoid spoilers and as it is a short booked packed with incidents it makes it difficult not to give too much away. So perhaps I should just stick to this; read this book if you like cats as you will appreciate Truss' manipulation of their foibles; read this book if you don't like cats as it will prove you right; and if you are indifferent to cats - how can you be indifferent to cats?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 13 July 2014
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This review is from: Cat out of Hell (Kindle Edition)
different and ok
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4.0 out of 5 stars my cats enjoyed it very much, 4 July 2014
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This review is from: Cat out of Hell (Hardcover)
Well observed and witty, my cats enjoyed it very much :o)
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3.0 out of 5 stars ‘I was in search of silence and tranquillity.’, 4 Jun 2014
By 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Cat out of Hell (Hardcover)
Alec, a retired librarian has recently been widowed. He heads off to a coastal village in North Norfolk with his small dog Watson in search of peace. But one night, while searching for mental stimulation, he opens his laptop and starts looking through a folder entitled ‘Roger’ which a former colleague had sent him. Inside that folder are files in which a man called Wiggy tells the story of his acquaintance with Roger – a talking cat, who sounds like Vincent Price. In a story that spans decades, Roger tells of how he learned to speak. Alec becomes part of the story, caught up in a world that contains a mysterious cat called Captain, kidnapping, murder and satanic cults. And yes, some cats really do have nine lives.

‘Purring was the way they sent people into a trance, you see – and then, when their prey was sort of paralysed and helpless, the cats would set to work with their claws.’

The story moves at a quick pace, and I found the first half much funnier than the second. In the second half, well, things get frenetic and a little dangerous. It’s a combination of humour and horror that doesn’t always work, although I won’t be adding a cat to my household anytime soon.

I’d recommend reading this in one sitting if possible.

‘As if stories ever did end anyway.’

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Cat out of Hell
Cat out of Hell by Lynne Truss (Hardcover - 27 Feb 2014)
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