This novel is about a woman who lives alone, inside a mirage, in the mountains of present-day New Mexico.
Kat O’Malley is not your average recluse. Several hundred years ago, O’Malley, then named Josefina, and her brother, Julio, received a gift, or curse, from their mother just before she was killed for being a witch. They were given nine lives, and made part cat. Kat is now on her fifth life. Her other lives did not end well. She was drowned for being a witch, stoned to death for being "too well liked" by cats, and she died in childbirth after giving birth to 13 daughters (not all at the same time).
Today, O’Malley has a justifiable fear of the outside world. She is happy to live with 50 cats, with whom she communicates telepathically. One day, a man named Angelo DiVita arrives at her door; it is actually Julio, her brother, from 400 years ago. He is now headmaster at a local commune/alternative high school. She reluctantly accepts his invitation to teach a history course at the school two days a week. Her only conditions are that she does it her way, and that there are no visitors to the class.
As at any other school, there are those on the Board of Directors who just have to stick their noses where they are not welcome, including one who thinks of herself as some New Age goddess. As the semester goes on, Kat exposes her students to the sort of history that won’t be found in any textbook. Her refusal to allow visitors to her class leads to resentment and prejudice on the part of the Board (she won’t allow visitors, so, therefore, she must be filling their heads with something evil). Kat has seen this before. When tragedy strikes near the end of the semester, what will become of Kat?
This tale easily reaches the level of Wow. It’s very contemporary, with just a little bit of weirdness. The author does a wonderful job throughout, and this is very much recommended.
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