What it’s about:
Clervaux, Luxembourg. This secluded, picturesque town in the middle of Europe is home to more cats than people. For years, tourists have flocked to this place – also known as “cat haven” – to meet the cats and buy cat-related souvenirs.
When Aidan, Jess and their five-year-old daughter, Eleonore, move from America to Clervaux, it seems as if they’ve arrived in paradise. It soon becomes clear, though, that the inhabitants’ adoration of their cats is unhealthy. According to a local legend, each time a cat dies, nine human lives are taken as a punishment. To tourists, these tales are supernatural folklore, created to frighten children on cold winter nights. But for the inhabitants of Clervaux, the danger is darkly, horrifyingly real.
Initially, Aidan and Jess regard this as local superstition, but when Jess runs over a cat after a night on the town, people start dying, one by one, and each time it happens, a clowder of cats can be seen roaming the premises. Are they falling victim to the collective paranoia infecting the entire town? Or is something unspeakably evil waiting for them? Aidan and Jess’ move to Europe may just have been the worst decision they ever made.
“Who is she?” Eleonore asked when Jess drove her to school Friday morning.
“Who’s who?” Jess countered, not sure what her daughter was talking about.
“The girl. The one who’s always watching us.”
“No one’s watching us,” Jess said.
“Yes, there is. All the girls in my baking class say the same.”
Normally, Jess wouldn’t have put much thought into such a remark – children can say weird things sometimes. But now it seemed Eleonore might be right. Jess felt like there was indeed someone watching them, no matter what they were doing. She felt it everywhere she went. When she took Eleonore to baking class, when she was lying in bed at night, even in the shops. But not all the time. Some of the time. More often than not, everything seemed normal, and then all of a sudden, she felt as if someone was checking up on her. Sometimes it was only briefly, like a minute or so, but at other times, she could feel it for several hours. Sometimes she could feel it on the streets. But mostly at home. And never outside Clervaux. You’re imagining things, she told herself.
In fact, every day since she’d arrived in Europe, it had gotten worse. More and more, she’d get that tingly feeling, and know that someone behind her was watching her. She’d try to ignore it, tried to resist the urge to look over her shoulder, but eventually the hair on the back of her neck would stand up, and the tingling would turn into a chill, and finally, she’d turn around. And nobody would be there. Nobody, except for the cats. The sight of cats waddling along the pavement had never seemed eerie to her, but the fact that they were always there, no matter where she was – on the sidewalk, at the main square, in a café, in the forest – made her skin crawl.
Whenever she was running errands in Clervaux, she kept looking into store windows, but it wasn’t the merchandise she was looking at; it was the reflection in the glass. The reflection of something sinister watching her. Sometimes she could have sworn she saw something. The reflection of a small, squatting figure. But then she glanced over her shoulder and all she could see once more were the cats of Clervaux staring back at her. She decided to not let her imagination get to her, to resist the urge to glance over her shoulder every few seconds. And then her daughter muttered the words, “Who is she? The girl. The one who’s always watching us,” and the paranoia tightened its grip on her once more.
About the author: Vanessa Morgan is known as the “female version of Stephen King.” Three of her works (The Strangers Outside, Next to Her, A Good Man) have become movies. When she’s not working on her latest book, you can find her watching horror movies, digging through flea markets, or photographing felines for her blog Traveling Cats (http://travelling-cats.blogspot.com).