Author: C. Bailey Sims
From Goodreads: "An Ancient Prophecy. A Powerful Relic. An Insatiable Evil. When all three converge, the fate of every living thing will be in peril. All her life Catherine had hoped to see a fairrier cat. No book, no scroll provided to her by her tutors had ever mentioned this legend, much to her frustration, and now-at the worst possible time-she was getting her wish. Only, in her wish the cat wasn't about to kill her. Fleeing an arranged marriage, sixteen-year-old Princess Catherine teams up with the legendary 732-year-old fairrier cat Spelopokos to stop the onslaught of omnivorous trodliks that have awakened, and a rejected suitor might just be the one warrior she desperately needs. A medieval fantasy novel of adventure, romance and horror for readers 12 and up, Candlewax won Connecticut's Tassy Walden Award for New Voices in Children's Literature, Young Adult category."
My Opinion: As a lover of high fantasy, I was intrigued when I saw this book listed on NetGalley, but I was a bit nervous going in because high fantasy can be really tough to get just right, and since this was an author I was not familiar with I didn't really know what to expect, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the story. The characters were well developed and the fantasy aspects of the book were unique and well written. I can't remember reading any books about farrier cats but the descriptions in this book were written so that I could easily picture what they looked like and how they behaved.
The story begins with Princess Catherine running away from home to escape an arranged marriage to the King of Candlewax. Catherine doesn't get far before she has an encounter with a farrier cat, Spelopokos, who informs her that she is the only one who can help him fulfill a prophecy, one that will save the lands of Lackanay. Spelopokos is the last of the farrier cats in Lackanay, and without them, the land will be overrun with creepy little creatures that eat anything that gets in their way, including crops, forests, and yes, people! To ensure this doesn't happen, Catherine and Spelopokos must cross the borders into a dangerous land and find more farrier cats to bring back with them. Along the way Catherine meets Bessie, who I absolutely loved because of her courage and never give up attitude. They also meet up with Cyril, the King of Candlewax, who, much to Catherine's delight, isn't the old man she was expecting him to be! Instead he's handsome and courageous, and promises her that he will help her fulfill the prophecy and save the land, and in doing so they will have the chance to get to know each other better before deciding whether they will end up betrothed or not. The thing I really liked about this book was that there was no instalove here, more like insta-annoy! Cyril and Catherine took their time getting to know each other and their attraction was able to grow naturally. There were also lots of bad guys to fight, with treachery and treason and back stabbing to keep things interesting!
The prose was a bit forced at times, but not enough to detract from the story. I have to mention the amazing world building in this book! You can tell that the author has a very active imagination, much to my delight! I was easily able to picture both the scenes and the people that Catherine and her friends came across, and this allowed me to enjoy the book even more.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It was a bit slow at first, but there was a lot of background needed to fully understand the story, and once that was done the pace picked up a lot. I liked the ending and since it appears to be a set up to a sequel (fingers crossed), I look forward to reading more about this land and its people :D