A Review of The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

Aaaah! I laughed, I cried, but most of all I flipped pages and bit my fingernails to the quick, eventually had to take a break, came back to it, and made myself finish it.

This book, though beautifully written, is one of the most stressful books I’ve ever read. The premise alone is enough to send my stomach tumbling: A cat is abandoned by the side of the road and befriends a hound before having her kittens. And that’s before we meet the bad guy and the scary wild animals!

Weaving Native American myth, gorgeous storytelling style, and beautiful characterization, Appelt draws you deep into the swamps of Louisiana. You feel the danger. You feel the heat. And most of all, you want to keep those kitten safe! Ominous warnings (“Do not”) are scattered throughout and every time you read one, you gulp a little.

Gar Face is one of the most frightening villains I’ve ever encountered. He’s up there with Malificent from Sleeping Beauty. Yes, he’s that scary.

The stories suck you in- the present day story and the ancient story. And the twist at the end is truly twisty but not in a bad way.

The reason it’s getting four stars is because it was so stressful! I know that books are supposed to put you a little on edge and keep you reading, but this story would leave its (very helpless) protagonists in incredibly precarious positions and choose that moment to go back in time 1000 years! Ahhhh! I would skip entire passages of the beautiful writing simply to see what happened.

Great book, but not for the faint-hearted, although I’d love to read it aloud to an older child. This book was made for reading aloud.

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