Mary Richards is a normal sixteen-year-old girl living in Manhattan. Well, almost normal. She goes to private school on the Upper East Side, having been saved from a life of squalor by an adoptive family. But she's also slowly transforming into a cat. Struggling to hide her physical metamorphosis, Mary discovers that she isn't alone. A whole race of cat people prowls the streets of Manhattan at night, including Mary's long-time crush, Nick. Aside from heightened feline senses, hanging out with Nick is the best thing about discovering her inner kitty. But Mary's transformation is special and could decide the outcome of a citywide turf war. She must decide whether to embrace her powerful feline side and become a pack leader or go back to being a normal teenage girl. Can she land on her feet or will curiosity be her downfall? (Synopsis from Powell’s Books)
I received an ARC of The Turning Book One: What Curiosity Kills by Helen Ellis as part of blog tour. The plot revolves around Mary, a sixteen year-old girl, turning into a cat, and not any ordinary cat, but a ruler cat. The originality of the storyline definitely intrigued me enough be curious about the rest of the book, and while I found Ellis' writing engaging and the book fast paced, there were aspects of the book that left me unenthusiastic.
Ellis’ characterization of Mary did not quite click with me. Mary seemed younger than her sixteen years. She had never had a boyfriend, never been kissed and she had been in foster care for a long time before being adopted. Because of this, I felt Mary should have been more street-wise than Ellis portrayed her. On the other hand, Octavia, Mary’s sister, seemed more true to life. She too spent several years in foster care before being adopted and came across as much more aware of herself than Mary. Octavia was, at least for me, more dynamic and by the end of the story seemed to change more that Mary did.
The fact that this is the first book in a series means that a lot of what was not explained will hopefully come to light in the next books. Obviously, since Mary was adopted, there has to be more background about her that will be revealed. Many references to other turnings were also made, but never fully explained either, so this was frustrating too. However, Ellis did set the stage for a great deal of conflict in her upcoming books as Mary and the reader learn more about upcoming turf wars between the doms, domestic cats who turn and the strays or pure-cats.
I did enjoy Ellis’ style of writing. The narrative was very straightforward and I think Mary has a great deal of potential to grow as a character. I also like Ellis’ secondary characters all of which added to the story in one way or another. I will definitely be interested in reading Ellis’ next book in this series to see how she develops Mary’s story further.