Thursday 21 April 2022

The Fire Cats of London


An Adventure Book Review by Erin the Literary Cat ©






Hello, and welcome to A Thursday Book Review featuring Adventures in Middle-Grade Fiction! 


One of the many joys of this blog, in fact the main joy, is sharing adventures and things that we like and read. When it comes to books, there are so many fine examples out there, it is incredibly hard to choose what to read first. In fact the palace bookshelves are rapidly filling up and I am thinking I may have to comandeer the fridge!


Just this week Mrs H sent me 3 new books to read. These are by David Michie, the famed author assistant to the the Dalai Lama's cat, respectfully announced as HHC (His Holiness's Cat). I have duly set to reading these fine accounts and can honestly say they are highly amusing, and quite insightful as to Buddhism and how it affects our everyday feline (and human) lives. So, if you can hear Buddhist monks chanting in the palace grounds, you'd be right, as I've got them in to improve the soil karma and productivity of the rose beds!


But it was the fourth book's title, courtesy of Macmillan Childrens Books, that just called out to my sense of history as well as adventure and wrongs being righted. We have read the other two books by this author, which naturally piqued our interest because they feature a very plucky mouse character who takes on the German army during WWII. That is a massive simplification of those fine stories and I do recommend them to you. But today we focus on a time in London's past that we never really thought much about bar the fact that there was a lot of property in need of renovation! 

So, without further ado, it is our pleasure to present, The Fire Cats of London by the hugely talented Anna Fargher!

© Anna Fargher/Macmillans childrens books/Sam Usher

The Fire Cats of London, by Anna Fargher


Awesome Artwork by:  Sam Usher


Published by:   MacMillans Childrens Books

Publication date:   7 JULY 2022

Paperback ISBN:   978 1529 046 878   


Cover price for Paperback £7.99,Availablle on Kindle also.


Pages 288.


Age range: Middle Grade (8-12 AND upwards) Do NOTE my comment in review at end

Any dogs or cats? Lead characters are wonderful wild cats. An antagonist is a British Blue cat. Many other talking creatures play key parts in this story.




Yes. We have given basic plot outline and it is necessary to mention some aspects of the plot. See also my cautionary not at end of this review.





We were lucky enough to be approved by Macmillan Childrens Books to review this book for you, via NetGalley.

The plot

It is England, 1666. Two wildcat siblings, Ash, and his sister Asta, live on the edge of a woods on the outskirts of London. One day, when no more than kittens, they are torn from their mother's side by huntsmen. Carted off with other animals, they are sold to London apothecary Mad Rather. He plans to keep them alive and take blood and whiskers to make his saleable remedies. 

Rathder's cat, Beauty, a British Blue cat, sets about persuading the wildcats that they are better off as captives than loose in the wood where they would likely be killed. Ash succumbs to Beauty's wicked wiles, but Asta doesn't and remains antagonistic to the apothecary and his cat. Time passes, and when Asta fails to be tamed, only one course of action is open to Rathder and his horrid business partner, Moore. In debt and needing money, they send her to the city's Bartholomew Fair and the baiting arena. Like so many wild animals, big and small before her, it likely means certain death!

One beacon of hope is Miriam, a Dutch widow who is also an astrologer and herbal medicine practitioner. She knows of Asta's and Ash's plight but is reviled by Rathder and Moore because she does them out of business and is a foreigner. She also tries to rescue animals from the arena.

I can't say much more than this, but suffice to say that the story weaves its way skillfully through the events up to and during the Great Fire of London.


So, what did we think?


Anna Fargher's adventures always have a great sense of place, time and emotion. This is no exception. Gritty, shocking, and yet wonderfully steeped in the sense of the people, prejudices and place. The story is as addictive as it is eye-opening, saddening and hopeful. It will open a window onto a life long lost to time. Here they will read and see the chaos of the fire of London wrapped around the characters' plight and adventure from beginning to end. 


The artwork for this story, which appears throughout, is terrific and fun. I think it certainly adds to the whole feel and acts to temper the story for the younger reader.

I MUST ADD that we have deliberately not mentioned the beginning scenes. As I have said, Anna's books are gritty. The underlying subjects make them so. While the subject matter, the key moment within this book's opening chapter is dealt with from afar and without glorification, such was my instant and genuine involvement and attachment to one character in the opening pages, I was stunned at what happened and had to put the book down. It took me quite a while to get over the shock/upset. Sensitive younger readers may well, therefore, need some help with this.

So . . . . 

Crunch time. 

I am a sensitive reader myself, I admit it. But, I can appreciate that this is an excellent, powerful, well-framed and pitched book that will please readers. 

Based on true accounts, this will undoubtedly appeal to fans of Anna's 'The Umbrella Mouse' series. Comparable authors might be Michael Morpurgo and Emma Carroll.

A 5 Star book and recommended as advised above. 


Want to buy a copy?


To get a copy, please do scorch a metaphorical trail only down to your local independent bookshop. 


There are plenty out there, and each is just waiting to serve up a treasure of literal magical resource, fun and adventure with a personal touch.


Anna Fargher WEB page can be found HERE or use


Macmillan Childrens Books web page can be found HERE.  or use


If any authors or publishers wish us to review their books, please do get in touch. Details are listed on our book review page.



 Untill next week, I shall leave yu with a picture of me checking out if the stripes on my sofa really do make a girl look slim!


© Erin the Cat Princess


Till laters!



  1. Glad you found such an intriguing book and the others in the series.

    You look quite contented there on your striped perch,Erin!

    1. Though this is not part of a series – the other two are – it has the same sort of gritty realism. Well worth any young readers time, as long as they're not too young or sensitive.
      It was a lovely warm day, and the stripes just called out to me ;)

  2. What an interesting plot - bravo on the review! You are looking mighty fine today LouLou.

    1. It really is so very well engineered around the 1666 great fire of London. Anna does some brilliant books.

  3. ERin ewe bee lookin fabulouz and gorgeouz az all wayz we gotta say. thiz book
    soundz grate, and yur ree veew wantz uz ta bee abe bull ta reed mor for manee
    reezonz. thanx for sharin and heerz two a grate week oh end ❤️

    1. Thanks for flying in from Trout Town! Lots of fun books out there, but this one resonated because of the title, place and adventure.

  4. What a wonderful-sounding adventure!
    And Erin - that's a wonderful selfie, too!

    1. Cant beat a historical novel especially with cats in. But there are some shocking truths in this as to period entertainment that was quite barbaric. Lovely story none the less and some fab artwork for the reader.

  5. I read a book a couple of years ago called The Apothecary's Cat, That also was set during the Great Fire and had some upsetting scenes in it. But those sort of things did happen back then and I did enjoy the book. This sounds like another that I would enjoy.

    1. This does sound similar doesnt it! I may have to have a look at that one.

    2. I gave you the wrong title, it should have been "The Alchymist's Cat."

  6. Charlee: "Hello Erin! Always nice to meet another tuxedo princess like myself!"
    Chaplin: "What makes you think you're a princess, Charlee?"
    Charlee (sniffs): "Dada does. Anyway I wish I could be a fire cat. Then nobody would ever bother me."
    Lulu: "I don't believe this book is about cats who shoot fire, if that's what you're thinking."
    Charlee: "In my mind it is, and since I'm a princess, well ..."

    1. Well if the staff say you're a princess then that must be true, surely, Charlee. Anyways, these cats have a pretty rough start to life, andd you are rightLulu, they dont shoot fire. BUt what they do get is caught up in the very real fire of London. They were quite ferocious to, but for very good reason. I hope you get a chance to read their adventure.