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TPG reviews: Catskinner’s Book, By Misha Burnett

November 17, 2013

Just a random thought before we begin: this book’s cover strongly reminds me of That Series whenever I look at it. I’m assuming that this wasn’t intentional. Anyway…

A unique thrill ride of a novel, let down somewhat by a weak ending.

Catskinner’s Book is a science fiction/urban fantasy novel set in a surreal world unlike any that you have seen before.

James Ozryck has a monster in his head.

All of his life the entity that he calls Catskinner has made him a fugitive, afraid to get too close to anyone, afraid to stay in one place for too long. Catskinner kills, without compassion and without warning, and is very good at it.

Now James has learned that Catskinner is not the only monster in the world, a world that has suddenly become a far stranger and more dangerous place than he imagined. In order to survive he will have to become something more than a monster, he will have to learn what it means to be human.



My rating: 6/10

Over on his blog, Misha Burnett consistently describes his debut novel as being hard to classify. Having read it, I’m inclined to agree. Having thought it over a bit, I would personally describe this novel as follows: Catskinner’s Book is a mixture of cosmic horror and urban/supernatural fantasy, with just a dash of science fiction and written in a style resembling a crime thriller. I can honestly say that I’ve never read anything quite like it, and I mean that in a good way. Mostly.

When the book begins, James Ozryk is living out his life as a contract killer.  He can do little else: James shares his body with a malevolent intelligence that takes delight in the fighting and killing of others, and has done so for much of his life. This entity refers to itself as Catskinner – hence, the novel’s title – and is capable of great feats of strength that James himself could never accomplish. When his boss is murdered, James goes out on the hunt for revenge, for once sharing Catskinner’s goals.

For the first two thirds or so, I was enthralled. James and Catskinner make an interesting pair of main characters and the interactions between them were fascinating to read. The fight scenes, of which there were several, were all fast and fluid. Layers upon layers of supernatural intrigue was shown or implied. The dialogue and description were strong, and each of the side characters were interesting in their own right.

Towards the end, sadly, things unravelled a little. The plot’s momentum begins to slow down and then, just as things are picking up again, it suddenly twists in a major way. This might sound like a good thing, but the problem is that the twist wasn’t foreshadowed in any way and seems to be there solely for the purpose of being a twist – a shocking swerve, in other words. This is followed up by an anticlimactic finale which resolves few of the plot points raised over the course of the book.  To be blunt, I was disappointed.

Catskinner’s book is a tough one to rate, seeing as my issues with it are all to do with its endgame. The book promises much over its length and does a good job in building suspense but, for me at least, the payoff wasn’t worth it. It’s not a bad book – not by a longshot – but I wouldn’t call it amazing either.

This book is the first of a planned trilogy. It can be found on Amazon here, and its sequel can be found here. If you’ve read or plan to read either of these, then feel free to voice your opinions down below.  The next book review will be ofThe Disenchanted Pet by Kate Policani, which I finished reading a couple of days ago.

From → Reviews

  1. This is a pretty good review of Misha’s book. I disagree about the ending , though – I think the end was somewhat anti-climactic because it’s a trilogy, and the climax comes in the next book. At least, that’s what I assume. It’s a sort of ‘take a breath, now the next chapter’ sort of ending. The bits I would criticise – and mind you I loved the book – were the details about organising ship refittings. Mind you, they added realism and showed M has done his research (or knows a lot about it) but I tended to skim to the action, somewhat.

    • Good point. To be honest, I rarely consider a book’s place within a series when I write reviews. The ending of this book basically assumes that you will read the sequel. This is fine in my case, since I will be, but it also means that the book doesn’t quite stand up on its own terms – hence, the slightly lowered score.

  2. Good review. I fancy a but of urban fantasy next, and this sounds worth a shot. Sounds like a darker Lives of Tao. Oh and totally agree about the cover. Would have simply walked past it in a book shop!

    • Hope you enjoy it, then :). Can’t say I’ve ever heard of Lives of Tao before; I looked it up on Amazon just now and bought it on the blurb alone. Looking forward to reading it!

  3. Bummer! I hate books that have an anticlimactic ending.

    I prefer books that start off slow and end with a bang! A great ending always makes a book so much better, it makes it so much more memorable.

    • Same here; it’s the endings that tend to stay with me after I read books. At least here there was a lot of good stuff along the way, mind 🙂

  4. Reblogged this on mishaburnett and commented:
    The Parasite Guy reviews “Catskinner’s Book”.

  5. Thank you. For what it’s worth, I’m not happy with how I ended it either. I do think my next one is better–writing novels is something we learn by doing, I think.

    • I must admit: when I first spotted your name on the notifications, I was a tad nervous :P. In any case, no prob. And thanks for the reblog :). The next book is on my to-read list, so I’ll be sure to review that one as well a bit further down the line.

      • I can understand that. I do appreciate your review, though, and you bring up a valid point that other people have mentioned as well. I’m glad that you enjoyed as much as you did, and I’m sorry the ending wasn’t better, I do hope you read “Cannibal Hearts”, I’d like to know if you think I’m getting better.

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