The latest from Angela Misri – author of the Portia Adams Adventures series for teens – is a middle-grade post-apocalyptic pet adventure novel with just the right balance of sweetness and gore. It’s George Selden’s The Cricket in Times Square meets The Walking Dead.
The novel is narrated by Pickles, a beautiful calico cat who considers herself the loyal protector of her two-year-old human “pet” Connor. When the story opens, Pickles and feline housemate Wally are confused by the strange sight of predatory humans eating another human. When Connor doesn’t arrive home from daycare, Pickles starts to worry.
Soon after, neighbour cat Ginger stops by and casually mentions that something called “zombies” have taken over the world, prompting Pickles and Wally to set off on a terrifying rescue expedition. They quickly befriend the handy and knowledgeable raccoon Trip and a ferocious warrior hamster named Emmy, both of whom join the cats on their journey.
Chilling, sometimes disastrous run-ins follow – with zombies, corrupt cats, aggressive chipmunks, a wayward faction of humans, and more. Readers will cheer for Pickles as she tries to keep her team together, alive, and on a path to Connor.
An exciting, disbelief-suspending, animal-led narrative with unusual twists can be difficult to pull off, but Misri succeeds with a story that is entertaining from start to finish. The plot is tightly drawn and fast-paced, and the action – including several scenes of zombie decapitation and impalement – is deliciously icky. Pickles and her gang are endlessly engaging, possessing ingenuity, kindness, courage, and awesome sparks of humour. And Misri brings the novel to a satisfying end, with just enough avenues open should the author conjure up further adventures for Pickles and her friends.