Review: Cat Burglar Black

Cat Burglar Black

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K was raised in orphanage where she was trained as a pickpocket and thief. Now she’s the most recent student at an exclusive all-girls school, Bellsong Academy. The school is so exclusive, in fact, there’s only three other students.

As it turns out, K’s been recruited by the stern Mrs. Turtledove for her special skills. What follows in Richard Sala‘s Cat Burglar Black (First Second, 2009) is a tale of secrets and late-night heists as K tries to outsmart the creepy Obtainers.

It’s a lot of fun, in a slightly cruel way, evoking the aesthetics of Edward Gorey and Charles Addams. Sala crafts a world that’s a little creepy but also playful with his exaggerated, loose lines and mood-setting colors. He also leaves the more frightening elements of the story off the page, suggesting the ultimate fates of characters rather than showing them outright, keeping the book light despite the subject matter.

K is a great heroine — she’s intelligent and resourceful. From her bright white hair to her mysterious past, she’s intriguing from the beginning and fabulous to follow as she dodges booby traps and scales fences. I love that we come in the middle of her story — Cat Burglar Black seems just like one small part of her life. While I don’t know if Sala will continue her adventures, I’d love to see more of her time in the orphanage and I’m curious about what kind of adult she’ll turn into.

But if we get no more stories about K, this one will be plenty. And I at least know I have more works by Richard Sala to explore.

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