FOR HE CAN CREEP is a delightful little novelette about Jeoffry the demon-hunting cat, a self-professed creature of cunning and power who takes it upon himself to protect his poet owner’s soul from the Devil when he’s forcibly commissioned to write a poem that will bring about the end of days. Jeoffry lives in a 19th century asylum, St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics, where his owner Christopher Smart is committed for thinking the poems he writes have the power to end the world. St Luke’s is regularly invaded by demons and imps that persecute and torment the inmates and Jeoffry is the one who hunts them down and sees them out the door like so much vermin. Little does he know that many years ago his human made a deal with the Devil, and now the Devil has come to collect. Jeoffry finds himself up against the wit and charm, deceit and violence of the father of demons himself and, much to his chagrin, finds he can’t simply fight this fight alone.
Cats are dicks. I say that as a big cat person, but we all know it. They’re haughty, narcissistic little buggers who are also capable of a lot of love and affection. And that’s Jeoffry in a nutshell haha. He certainly has a high opinion of himself and struts around St Luke’s as the people’s champion, the defender of the weak against the evil imps and demons that mistreat them. And he certainly has certainly a noble calling, but boy does Jeoffry want you to know it haha. He’s such a lovable little rogue and his very cat-like sense of superiority is very recognisable and endearing. I don’t know anything about Siobhan Carroll as a person, but I really get the sense she’s a cat lover; this isn’t an anti-cat manifesto at all, it’s actually all about the love and loyalty and affection cats are capable of even while they strut around like they own the place.
I can’t say I’ve read many stories about non-anthropomorphised animals so it sounds quite odd to talk about the character development of a cat haha, but Jeoffry has so much character development! This is kind of a story about not being ashamed to ask for help and recognising that there’s power in friendship, so when Jeoffry goes up against the Devil for the first time he’s shocked and dismayed to be outwitted. Him! The great and terrible Jeoffry! Preposterous! And it’s by exploiting Jeoffry’s selfish and greedy impulses that the Devil manages to beat him. So Jeoffry is forced to swallow his pride and seek the assistance of his fellow demon-fighting felines, who are so much fun. Polly, Jeoffry’s tattery-eared former lover and Black Tom, the hard-as-nails alley cat who has past beef with Jeoffry and finally (saving the best for last) The Nightmare Moppet, an unassuming little kitten with a penchant for chasing butterflies, but unleashes hell in a scrap! Together they come up with a cunning plan to defeat the Devil and save the world, culminating in a pulse-pounding and always humorous final showdown.
Flash and fire! Bristle and spit! The great Jeoffry ascends the madhouse stairs, his orange fur on end, his yellow eyes narrowed! I adored this little novelette, it’s so much fun and Jeoffry is a delight, even if he is a haughty little bugger.
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