The Turning: What Curiosity Kills by Helen Ellis

Posted May 4, 2010 by Sara | Novel Novice 3 Comments

You’ve got to give author Helen Ellis points for originality. The concept of her first YA book The Turning: What Curiosity Kills (the first in a new series) is nothing if not original.

It tells the story of 16-year-old Mary Richards, living the good life in the Upper East Side after being plucked out of the foster care system — when suddenly, she starts turning into a cat.

Yes, a cat. As in, meow.

What struck me most about The Turning when I first started reading it was how funny it is. Ellis has a gift for turning a phrase and pointing out the utterly hilarious and ridiculous characteristics of society. This is truly the most charming part of the novel — the tiny jabs at Upper East Side society, the poignant references to pop culture — they all truly enhance the story and make it fun to read. These are the elements that drew me in as a reader more than anything else.

Then things take off at a break-neck speed after Mary learns about “the turning” and gets sucked into the turf wars between the stray cats and the domesticated cats. She’s got a couple of fellow turn-cat guys by her side, who both have different opinions on the matter. It doesn’t help Mary that one of them is also her crush.

Ellis writes with a sense of urgency, and her pacing is good — almost cinematic in quality. She’s also not afraid to go there when she needs to. These are not fluffy pet shop kittens. These cats are out for blood — literally — and are willing to fight to the death, if necessary. Ellis writes these scenes without tiptoeing over the more gruesome details, but without any sense of gratuity, either. It’s a fine line to walk, and she balances it nicely.

The concept for The Turning may sound a bit crazy and preposterous — teens turning into cats? — but Ellis writes it believably, establishing up a mythology rich in detail and rules. She’s set herself up well for an engaging and fast-paced series.

The Turning: What Curiosity Kills is now available in stores everywhere. Learn more at Helen Ellis’ official website.

Here is the official summary:

Mary Richards is a normal sixteen-year-old girl living in Manhattan. Well, almost normal. She goes to private school on the Upper East Side, having been saved from a life of squalor by an adoptive family. But she’s also slowly transforming into a cat.

Struggling to hide her physical metamorphosis, Mary discovers that she isn’t alone. A whole race of cat people prowls the streets of Manhattan at night, including Mary’s long-time crush, Nick.

Aside from heightened feline senses, hanging out with Nick is the best thing about discovering her inner kitty. But Mary’s transformation is special and could decide the outcome of a citywide turf war. She must decide whether to embrace her powerful feline side and become a pack leader or go back to being a normal teenage girl. Can she land on her feet or will curiosity be her downfall?

Sara | Novel Novice
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3 responses to “The Turning: What Curiosity Kills by Helen Ellis

  1. Excellent review. This has me wanting to go out and buy this book like right now. I’ve never heard of this book or this author and now I’m intrigued. Me want.

    Thanks!

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