Dante walked home through the dense fog and sensed someone followed. Yet, each time he slowed and looked back, he saw and heard nothing suspicious. Eyes and ears on full alert, he hesitate at the front steps of his house. A persistent meowing came from the front door. Dante went to the burnt sienna, yellow-eyed cat sitting still on its haunches stiff as a sentinel. It reminded him of Egyptian cat-goddess statuettes.
Dante bent and petted the cat, which rewarded him with relentless purring. The cat arched its back under his hand, and he discovered its gender was female. “Cat, I can use some company, so whoever you are, you may stay the night, or longer if you wish.”
Dante opened the door, and the cat rushed inside ahead of him as if she knew where to go. He switched on the lights, grateful his father’s partners had notified PG&E and the telephone company to connect their services. Dante next went into the library, where the cat observed him from the mantle above the cold fireplace.
“If you intend to stay, I must give you a name. No idea what you were called before.”
What intrigued me the most about this story when I first learned about it it’s the same thing I appreciated the most when I read it: its very strong ‘occult’ feeling. There are a lot of classic elements of the story of the occult here: Nostradamus’s prophecies, Egyptians cats, sentient gargoyle statuettes, seers, ancient Byzantium lineage, secret Masonic-like societies. Add a 1940s San Francisco setting and it makes for a very definite atmosphere.
The plot is packed full of events, there are many characters and it looks like everyone is up to something. Although Nostradamus’s descendant and powerful seer in the making Michele is clearly the centre of the story, the character I liked the most and the one I related to the best is Marco Dante, a veteran of the Great War whose face has been disfigured on the battlefield. Now dismissed from the army, he has turned a painter of great success and after he meets Michele his paintings become kind of mystic. He’s a very caring character, and that’s what I like about him.
So this is an enjoyable story, but I think it could have been even more so if the narrative style had been more direct. The author relies a lot on recounting the story rather than letting it play in front of the reader’s eye, and this didn’t allow for a lot of involvement, in my opinion. But in spite of this, the eventful plot makes for an easy read.
In addition to be part of the Thursday Quotables meme at Bookshelf Fantasies, which I often take part to, this post is also part of the Book Tour for the launch of the book
Donald Michael Platt
Donald Michael Platt is an award wining author of five published novels: “Rocamora,”an International Book Awards Finalist, and its sequel “House of Rocamora” set in 17th century Spain and Amsterdam during their Golden Ages. “Close to the Sun,” a WWII novel about USAAF and Luftwaffe fighter aces has garnered three Indie Book Award Finalist Awards. The Historical Novel Society named his novel “Bodo the Apostate” an Editor’s Choice title, calling it “a masterfully-controlled narrative” of the Carolingian Empire. “A Gathering of Vultures,” a contemporary horror novel set in Florianópolis, Brazil, was also selected as an Indie Book Award Finalist in Horror.
Donald and his wife Ellen currently reside in Winter Haven Florida along with his cat, Bodo, a loquacious tyrant.