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Inges

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A suspenseful historical mystery with some unconventional narrators and a healthy dose of adventure!

Synopsis

Inges is not a good cat. Sure, he saves the day, helps the weak, tweaks the noses of kings and wins the hearts of beauties. But he’s no hero: he’s just looking after number one.

England 1621: A killer haunts the Yorkshire Dales, and when Inges’ human is falsely accused of witchcraft, he must leave his quiet, rural home for the grime and glamour of 17th Century London. His search for justice will entangle him in a sinister plot that has its claws in the highest levels of English society - and beyond.

With a cast of kings, bishops, princes, frogs, cats, poets and assassins, Inges is a genre-hopping historical murder mystery that vividly recreates life in England during the reign of James I, through the mismatched eyes of a self-absorbed, cynical, but ultimately likeable, cat

Based on a true story. A Jacobean Tragedy. With cats.


A beautiful mixture of mystery, adventure, and historical fiction, Inges' story centers around the framing of himself, his fellow imps (as the cunning animals are called), and their humans for murder and witchcraft. After the humans are thrown in prison, it falls to Inges and his friends to solve the mystery and save them all from death.

John Brunsdon's use of a cat and his animal friends as narrators threatened to be cheesy or gimmicky, but he manages to be serious when it comes to his storytelling, and playful when it comes to his protagonist. His choice is actually ingenious, as it gives him the means to explore a moment in history without it feeling stuffy or slow. In fact, this read might prove entertaining for even those who can't help saying how boring they find history at every mention.

Brunsdon's choice of narrator is amazingly apt for the historical topic at hand. King James I's obsessive terror concerning witches is fascinating, and also very amusing. The execution of so many innocent people is heartbreaking of course, and I don't want to detract from that. The sincerity of his tone and the horrible fate Inges is trying to prevent pays homage to this reality as well. But his use of a cat as a narrator is clever as well, because he can also capture the absurdity. Of course, Brunsdon doesn't dive into the truly ridiculousness of King James I's fears, but he captures the spirit and opens the door to further curiosity.

My biggest critique is that the use of the imps as characters in the story significantly increased the amount of names, relationships, species, and the like to keep track of - or is it the use of humans? There were a few moments I thought I was catching continuity errors, but after a search through realized I was thinking of a different Thomas or forgot a character's name was introduced. That being said, it doesn't feel like there are too many characters in terms of the story; in fact, I'd more readily say fewer characters would make it less effective. Other than that, beyond a dissatisfying information dump towards the end and a line or two that fell victim to cheesiness, Brunsdon's writing is great. He has a clearly set tone throughout, effective pace, and perfect levels of complexity.

I think this could be a great read for grown-up fans of the Warriors series.


Reviewed by

I fell in love with reading when I was eight years old, and after that it was hard to get my nose out of a book. I review a variety of genres, but gravitate most towards historical fiction. Nothing beats the excitement of a new adventure, and I love connecting others with theirs!

Synopsis

Inges is not a good cat. Sure, he saves the day, helps the weak, tweaks the noses of kings and wins the hearts of beauties. But he’s no hero: he’s just looking after number one.

England 1621: A killer haunts the Yorkshire Dales, and when Inges’ human is falsely accused of witchcraft, he must leave his quiet, rural home for the grime and glamour of 17th Century London. His search for justice will entangle him in a sinister plot that has its claws in the highest levels of English society - and beyond.

With a cast of kings, bishops, princes, frogs, cats, poets and assassins, Inges is a genre-hopping historical murder mystery that vividly recreates life in England during the reign of James I, through the mismatched eyes of a self-absorbed, cynical, but ultimately likeable, cat

Based on a true story. A Jacobean Tragedy. With cats.

Overture: On Imps & Other Matters

My name is Inges, so you’ll already know I’m not a good cat - no cat of moral standing would own up to such a name.

This is my story. I didn’t write it for you. I had it taken down - the most part, anyway - at the house of a great man in London, long ago. It was to help me remember, at a time when I knew that I might soon forget. It’s very easy to forget, and some things must be remembered.

If you are to read this tale, then we should probably get some things clear from the start. Our world - the cats and the other imps - is not like yours, so I have made some changes to help you make sense of it.

For your understanding, I live in a parish you call Fewston, in a place you call Yorkshire, in a country you call England. And everything I’m going to tell you about took place a little while back in the year you call 1621 - which is the year I call Nine because that’s how many years it was since I was born, and I really don’t have much need of the other 1,612 that came before.

That is your world, not mine. But in this particular year some things happened. Bad things. Things that made your world cross over into mine. And that is never a good thing.

To cut a long story short, I saved some humans from a horrible fate, uncovered a sinister plot that went to the very highest top of society, met two kings, some marquesses and bishops, a great playwright, and all manner of imps. I fell in love, had my heart broke, fought a great battle; and generally put everything right in the end. Some others were involved too, but it was mostly me.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. ‘But Inges,’ you’re going to say, ‘you said you weren’t a good cat - so how come you ended up saving the day and playing the part of hero?’ Well - here’s the thing. My fur might be black and white, but morality - for a cat of my nature - is always a little more tabby. Why did I do it? Because there was something in it for me.

You people have a lot of names for us - ‘imps’; ‘familiars’; ‘pets’ - if you’re one of those sorts of humans. But the reality is, we own you. If you’re going to read my story you will need to come to terms with that for a start. Every imp (that’s the term I prefer, but ‘familiar’ is acceptable too. Not pet. Never pet) selects their human just as soon as they are old enough to make a decision for themselves. For us cats, that’s about a week old, when we first open our eyes. In the case of dogs… no, I’m kidding you, they never make a decision for themselves.

You see, the thing about being a cat - or any sort of imp - is that we don’t have souls. Now that’s a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing because we don’t have to deal with all the hand-wringing that goes with it - and try doing that without opposable thumbs. A bad thing, because without a soul you can’t move on. When you die, you die. But if you have a borrowed soul you can keep coming back, just as long as the person who holds that soul is still alive, that is. So, our humans are very important to us. That means we need to keep them alive as long as possible.

When my human was facing a particularly nasty end at the hands of some rather intense pyromaniacs, I needed to step in. The others I saved? The other things I put right? Put those down to collateral virtue.

Anyhow, that’s all by way of letting you know what was behind all my troubles. When I told my old friend Vinegar Tom I would be making a human version of the tale of my adventures, he said two things to me. ‘Inges,’ he said, ‘make sure you don’t forget my part in it all.’

That was one thing he said, and the other was: ‘humans are proud, stubborn creatures who won’t take the word of a cat, so you have to show them what happened, not tell them.’

So, I’ll start in the year One, and I’ll show you what happened.



About the author

John Brunsdon is a former BBC journalist and award-winning feature writer. He works as a professional writer and musician. John lives in the Cotswolds with his partner and their cat, Pi. view profile

Published on January 14, 2021

70000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Historical Fiction

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