Cats Creep: Dark Tales of Feline Fright and Fantasy
Edited and Compiled by William P. Simmons & Michell Simmons
Shadow House Publishing (March 21, 2023)
Reviewed by Nora B. Peevy
I recently read an article in the Smithsonian Magazine: Ask Smithsonian: Are Cats Domesticated? by Alicia Ault, published on April 30, 2015. She states there is little difference between domestic cats and wild cats. Domestic cats are only domesticated because they choose to be domesticated. Cats, if they have ever been domesticated were domesticated around 5,000-10,000 years ago. Dogs were domesticated 18,000 to 30,000 years ago and have a working bond with humans; cats eat the food humans provide them, but still maintain their wild instincts to hunt on their own.
I grew up in a household with five cats. One of the things cat owners know about their beloved feline companions is they cannot force a cat to return their affection. Cats are fickle and stubborn creatures, but also loyal, devoted, and affectionate, if you win their love. Dogs are pack animals; you establish you are their pack master, and they will love you and follow you wherever you go, unconditionally. Cats definitely have conditions, lots of conditions. You are either a cat person, a dog person, or both. I am a cat person. There is no sound more soothing than a cat purring when I come home.
This collection of cat tales, Cats Creep: Dark Tales of Feline Fright and Fantasy, is an enjoyable read, but all of the stories are not appropriate for the modern reader because of the racist and sexist tones used by some of the authors. It has not aged well. There are familiar authors in this collection like Edgar Allan Poe, M.R. James, Bram Stoker, and Ambrose Pierce, but this anthology will also introduce you to lesser known authors like J.S. Le Fanu, Barry Pain, Lefcadio Hearn, and F. Antsey. The collection focuses on the 19th and 20th centuries, and cats are generally not portrayed as heroes in these tales.
I enjoyed three stories immensely. The first story is The White Cat of Drumguinnol by J.S. Le Fanu, in which a family is visited by a white cat banshee. The second story is Ancient Sorceries by Algernon Blackwood; a man visits a town inhabited by people with the mysterious habits of cats—or are they cats? Perhaps, they are reincarnated witches? Read and decide. My third and final favorite is The Boy Who Drew Cats by Lefcadio Hearn, a delightful Japanese story reminiscent of a children’s fairytale, in which a young boy draws magical cats who come to life. This anthology has some entertaining stories for cat lovers, but, as I stated earlier, some of the stories have not aged well, and I could have skipped those.