A very festive review today! The Cat of Yule Cottage combines mystery, magic, village life, Cornish traditions and cats into one enthralling read…
Book: The Cat of Yule Cottage by Lili Hayward
Read before: No
Ownership: Paperback copy sent by author for fair review. All opinions my own.
When you buy a house in an idyllic Cornish village, you don’t usually expect it to come with a resident cat, and a whole host of traditional rivalries for you to get entangled in. But that’s exactly what Jess Pike finds when she rents Enysyule, on the condition that she looks after the previous occupant’s cat, Perrin. Maybe Perrin is more than he seems – certainly the cottage and its history are! Jess becomes embroiled in a tangled web of intrigue that’s been around for centuries – can she hold her own in the village, even through strange dreams and even stranger links to the past?
This book has a bit of everything. From the title alone, you might expect it to be a heartwarming Christmas romance, with added kittyness. And there is an element of that – Jess’s fight to be accepted by the villagers, and her ensuing romance with one of them, wouldn’t be out of place as the plot of a Hallmark Christmas movie. But that’s definitely not all of it. Around this frame, Lili Hayward wraps the Cornish traditions of Allantide (Halloween) and Montol, the winter solstice celebrations – you get the feeling that there’s a wealth of magic and folklore behind the everyday lives of this place. There’s also a historical mystery, as Jess must try to uncover the past of Enysyule to prevent a local landowner from destroying the valley. It’s definitely not a simple book, but everything is deftly woven together and makes for a compelling read.
It took me a couple of pages to get into the book, as I’m not usually a fan of first person present tense, but I did find this allowed me to really connect with Jess as a narrator. Once I settled into the style, the atmosphere really sang – you can get a great sense of the cottage, all dark and lonely, and the valley it sits in. The landscape feels alive, and is pretty much a character in its own right, especially as the mystery unfolds. The festival scenes were some of my favourites, as you could almost see the hustle and bustle and excitement. But my best scenes were any that had Perrin in! You can really tell the author knows cats – and I loved the tradition that the villagers had to bring him fish as a sort of offering!
If you’re looking for a quick read that will get under your skin, The Cat of Yule Cottage has a great balance of mystery, creep, and human warmth. To tell you too much about the book would spoil it, because it’s one you really need to experience to get the full effect – but suffice to say, I really enjoyed it! Five out of five cats.