‘How should I begin?’ I asked.
Tessa found me sitting alone by the smouldering coals of our dying campfire. I held a pen in my right hand. On my knee was the journal she’d given me after the fight at Cascade Falls school. After she came back to us.
She thought it might help me to have somewhere to put my thoughts but it had been weeks now and the pages were a desert. I just didn’t know where to start.
Tessa sat down, fixing me with those eyes that seemed much too old for her young face. Were too old. She tilted her head to one side. ‘Are you still having trouble Cat?’
‘I suppose … Just begin with your name. Or even with one word. That is how everything starts, isn’t it? With one tiny, tentative step into the forest.’
Vulpi continues the paranormal tale begun in ‘Thyla’ and is again set in contemporary Tasmania. Cat is a shapeshifter, a Thyla. She thought she knew who she was, but the more she discovers about herself and her new world, the more she realises there is to know. Now she is living in the wild, with all the safety and danger that entails. Time is a luxury she, and others like her, can ill afford. Evil is ever-present, and Diemen attacks are escalating, both in frequency and viciousness. Tessa with her friends and allies have powers beyond their human selves, but so do their enemies. Everyone will need to work together and be on their guard if they – and others – are to survive. There is so much to do, so much to learn. Her mentor, Tessa, suggests she capture her thoughts on the page, to try to make sense of it all, but there may be no time even for that.
Vulpiis a page-turner, a swirling mass of intrigue, trust and betrayal. Cat, new to life as a Thyla, is insightful, impatient, brave and overwhelmed. And that’s just in one chapter. For most teenagers, the transition from child to adult is full of swings back and forth. Add shapeshifting and ‘rites of passage’ become something altogether more challenging. There are plenty of themes wrapped up in this adventure, doing what fiction does best: showing how others live and how they adapt, succeed and fail in their journey through life. ‘Vulpi’ explores good and evil and the overlap between them. But most of all, Vulpi is a ripping yarn. Look out for the next instalment. Recommended for mid-secondary readers.
Vulpi, Kate Gordon Random House 2012 ISBN: 9781742752365
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author