Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Feral Curse"

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author the Feral series, which includes Feral Nights and Feral Curse, as well as the Tantalize series, which includes Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed, and Diabolical.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Feral Curse and reported the following:
Here's a peek from pg. 69:
Then I spring to a hearty branch. Extending my claws, I race up until I'm just below the doorway, then fly inside. Peter lets out an "oomph!" as we careen together against the wall.

That's when my nose announces that I've made a huge mistake.

Before I can retreat, a pointed cowboy boot slams into my solar plexus.

Lucky shot. I suck in a breath and hit the floor hard, knocked to fully human form. It's darker in here, but my eyes adjust immediately.

As I start coughing, Aimee whispers, "Yoshi! I'm so sorry!" She's holding a Taser gun.

"Shh!" I scold, frantically texting Kayla: False alarm. "Do not tase me," I say to Aimee. "I hate when people tase me. What are you doing here?"

"You obviously need my help."
What do we have here? Action, conflict, a dash of humor, a brushstroke of back-story, a hint of the southwest setting, and an imperfect but fantastical hero.

In a case of mistaken identity, werecat Yoshi attacks and then is knocked down by his human best friend Aimee, who's traveled from Austin to assist him. Though she's been introduced by phone, this is the first time Aimee appears live (so to speak) on stage.

It's on this page that the reader's concept of "our heroes" begins to widen from a newly-formed couple-Kayla and Yoshi-to the team that will ultimately combat the haunted carousel that's transported Yoshi to small-town Pine Ridge.

Is it representative? There's not this level of physical action on every page. Suspense ebbs and flows, scene by scene, while building steadily in the whole. Character and mystery/mythology dynamics heavily inform and drive the plot. If I were making a movie trailer, I don't know that this is one of the scenes I'd highlight, but it does offer a sense of how, from a contemporary teen perspective, fantasy and reality collide. It also showcases the importance of friendship to the story.
Feral Curse is book 2 in the Feral trilogy (a spin-off of the Tantalize series), published by Candlewick Press. Each of the books can stand alone, though they're best appreciated in concert.

Learn more about the book and author at Cynthia Leitich Smith's website and blog.

Writers Read: Cynthia Leitich Smith (March 2009).

--Marshal Zeringue