I called my wife from work at 11am to be informed that the postman had just delivered her birthday present. I know that a new Anne McCaffrey novel is a must have for her so when I saw that the latest was due to be released around the time of her birthday, it was a pretty safe bet that it would be a present that would earn me copious brownie points (always useful). I also knew that by the time I got home she would have devoured this book. Catalyst is the first volume of a new saga from McCaffrey cowritten with Elizabeth Anne Scarborough following on from their Acorna and Petaybee series. As these series have spawned 6 (so far) and 3 volumes respectively I am certain that we will hear more of the Barque Cats. McCaffrey & Scarborough's fantasy novels are generally challenging but this new series seems a little lighter in tone. The Barque Cats in question are true work animals providing a valuable service to travellers in space keeping vermin off ships and finding Oxygen leaks. The story deals with Chessie (the Barque Cat of the title) and her human companion Janina. While the pregnant Chessie is having a check up Janina travels to a planet with a doctor to tend to sick animals. Chessie is stolen and with a litter of potentially very valuable Barque kittens on the way Janina is distraught. She is unable to rescue Chessie as it is claimed that the planet is infected with a plague and that all amimals must be destroyed. As far as my wife is concerned it was an unputdownable gem. Who am I to disagree?
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