Apprentice Cat by Virginia Ripple

When Toby is paired with Lorn Ribaldy to begin their apprenticeship and lifelong magical partnership, they aren’t told it is a conditional acceptance to the elite magic academy. Some believe only cats of aristocratic backgrounds belong in the school. And then there’s the fact of Lorn’s uncle, found plotting against the Counsel, his cat partner murdered by his hand and in complete mental breakdown. Toby and Lorn seek to prove the innocence of Lorn’s uncle and learn to trust each other, all while keeping up with their school work.

This book is listed for kids 9 to 18 but I would recommend it for middle school kids as it may be thematically complex for younger readers and a bit predictable for older readers. It will appeal to kids who enjoy modern fantasy novels.  There is a strong focus on values from a specifically Christian viewpoint with subsequent books encouraging truth seeking over blind following.

The first chapter of the book is more of a prologue, the kind often found in popular genre fiction. Not expecting that, I found it confusing. Also, I hate cats. I put the book down with no intention of picking it up again. But my brain kept reminding me of the quality of the writing so I gave it another go. Apprentice Cat is not only well written, it is an excellent story. The author balances the adventure of the main story line well with Toby and Lorn’s struggle to find their place in a new school.

For parents of precocious readers: Just as the Harry Potter series got darker in book four, the second book in this series may not be appropriate for younger readers. Fortunately, the first book stands on its own and parents can “discover” the rest of the series when their child is older.

Follow the continuing adventures of Toby and Lorn:

All books can be purchased through Amazon by clicking on their images.

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