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The Catswold Portal

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  815 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
A striking new reissue of an epic fantasy by popular Harper author Shirley Rousseau Murphy, featuring a princess's dangerous quest to reclaim her throne...and, of course, cats!

There is a door in an artist's garden: an elaborate carved passageway into a realm ruled by a dark sorceress queen. There entities strange and wondrous roam the Netherworld––yet none as astonishing a
Paperback, 432 pages
Published January 25th 2005 by Harper Voyager (first published April 1992)
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Dewey by Vicki MyronHomer's Odyssey by Gwen CooperOld Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. EliotThe Cat in the Hat by Dr. SeussInto the Wild by Erin Hunter
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43rd out of 697 books — 335 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,625)
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Sep 09, 2008 Ambertronic rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
It's funny how different a book feels when you reread it years after you first devoured it. I read Catswold Portal around '93 or '94 (when I was transitioning from Jr. High to High School) and I was enchanted with it. Just loved it. I recently reread it and now I can only think... did this book make sense when I was a kid? There were plot holes (nothing sizeable, but noticeable), and while I think the key to great writing is to imply and not spell things out for people, this book could've
Oct 23, 2013 Mauri rated it it was ok
It had some fun ideas, but Melissa and Siddonie just didn't make sense. Melissa just sort of floated along, doing exactly as the plot required without much thought. More was done to her than by her, as it were. Siddonie was consistently described as pure evil, even as a child. Uh, why? I mean, her actions are evil in adulthood, but how come every good guy who sees her immediately knows that the kid is bad news?

The world-building was meh. There were kingdoms with kings. There were different races
Mar 05, 2011 Kellee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Read this 3 times. What a great great book. Whether you like Cats or not this has the mystery and suspense to keep you reading and then wanting more. I stole the next comment right from the Authors tag. Because Shirley Rousseau Murphy knows cats and she couldn't have said it better.
There is a door in an artist's garden: an elaborate carved passageway into a realm ruled by a dark sorceress queen. There entities strange and wondrous roam the Netherworld––yet none as astonishing as the shape–shifti
Sep 10, 2009 Arminzerella rated it liked it
Melissa is Catswold royalty. She’s a shapeshifter who takes both cat and human form and she comes from a stubbornly independent race. She’s beautiful, powerful, and special, but she has no idea who she is. Melissa’s earliest memories are from age 9 and she doesn’t know where she came from, what she is, or who her parents were. In order to find these answers, she summons a Lamia from the Hell pit. It starts her on a quest to discover her own identity, one that inevitably leads her out of the Neth ...more
Luke Baldock
Jan 17, 2012 Luke Baldock rated it it was amazing
Loving books about cats but wanting a break from Warriors, I decided to give this one a go. I also love fantasy, so all things were looking good. Then I read the large amount of mixed reviews. I wasn't in the mood for a slow book, so I hesitated reading this at first. Luckily, once I'd started, I found it hard to stop. This took up the majority of my free time over the four days it took to read. Even in these cold winter months, I found myself getting up an extra ten minutes early just to fit in ...more
Aug 16, 2011 Gewbook rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This was a fun read and I enjoyed it, but this is not a fantastic book. There were whole plot threads and characters (Prince Efil didn't need to be fleshed out) that I realized later were completely unnecessary and, had they been taken out, could have left more room for the main story. Some important things got shorted or "convenienced" away, like Melissa suddenly "remembering" the changing spell when it became convenient to the story for her to be able to change. And I was 50 pages from the end ...more
Delicious Strawberry
I read this book once a long time ago, and later on asked for a copy for Christmas. It was no less better the second time around. If you love cats, you WILL love this book.

One thing I loved was the idea that magic and science were restrained to their respective worlds - so that someone with guns and technology couldn't take over Affandar, and a skilled magician couldn't take over our world - making for a wonderfully plausible book that has a mixture of magic and science. I also liked the subtle
Shiloh (Fantastic Reading)
I gave it 3.5 but rounded up to 4 for the sheer nostalgia of it.

Melissa has no memory of her childhood before the age of nine. Her guardian, Mag, hides things from her. And she finds herself strangely fascinated by small animals--especially live, fluttering ones. When she decides to go hunting the truth about her past, she is thrown into a world of intrigue, magic, shape-shifters, and treachery. She learns that she is Catswold, a race of shape-shifting cat people. She meets and falls in love wit
Aug 10, 2012 Maddison rated it really liked it
Details about the book:
Title: The Catswold Portal
Author: Shirley Rosseau Murphy
Page Count: 404
First Sentence: He ran pounding through the forest, his tennis shoes snapping dry branches as he stretched out in a long lope.

My Review:
The Catswold Portal is a fantasy book.
The reason I read this book is for a reading competition/buddy read with someone on another forum. I wasn't too keen on the cover, but once I got into it, it was just fabulous. It takes place in two dimensions, the Netherworld and t
Jun 19, 2014 Darlene rated it it was amazing
Shirley Rousseau Murphy managed to capture my attention from the very first paragraph of this book. She pulled me into a another world, one "peopled" by cats in such a way that I was comfortable and excited by the adventure. I'm not someone who normally likes stories told by animals but this is one author who can pull it off with aplomb. I highly recommend this book for an enchanting escape into fiction.

Kim Ehrenhaft
Jun 06, 2014 Kim Ehrenhaft rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
V.A. Manning
Jun 04, 2012 V.A. Manning rated it it was amazing
This is one book I have never tired of. I love cats, and this was my first taste of fantasy - though it did not make me love the genre with all of my heart, it still paved the way for a special spot in my interests. I love the imagery of the Netherworld, and the concept of shape-shifting. Murphy has a unique ability to pull you into the world of the characters, whether in the fantastical Netherworld or the mundane Real World. Not to mention, I grew up walking the streets of Carmel as a child, an ...more
Aria Krohne
Jan 31, 2016 Aria Krohne rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! Very strong, vibrant characters. I didn't expect it to be so good!
Jan 31, 2016 Max rated it it was amazing
Have not read this book yet but there is no way it can be bad
Mollie Hunt
Aug 11, 2014 Mollie Hunt rated it really liked it
Shelves: life-changers
Because I believe.
Sep 24, 2008 Pam rated it it was amazing
This book may sound strange, but for some reason it works. It's about cats who live in an underground world and are able to transform into humans, and how they happen to meet and interact with the upper human world. It's a fantasy, war, and love story.
I found this book by having read the Joe Grey mysteries by the same author--about 2 cats, Joe Grey and Dulcie, who are able to talk and help solve mysteries in their town, but only their owners know they can talk.
It all sounds crazy, but it's endea
Kathleen Molyneaux
Mar 29, 2013 Kathleen Molyneaux rated it liked it
Not sure if this was a 2 star or 3 star book. I gave it three because the author has a great grasp of how cats behave. Melissa as a cat was pretty cute. Melissa as a person was not so engaging. There were also issues with pacing in the book. Lots of time spent describing Melissa's concerns over being discovered, however surprisingly little repercussions when she finally was. In fact, most of the conflicts in this book ended up resolving a bit to quickly and neatly.
Jan 05, 2012 Susan rated it liked it
In 1957 San Francisco, a garden shed is closed by a carved wooden gate that happens to be a portal to the netherworld ruled by evil Queen Siddonie. The only one who can oppose her is Melissa, who turns out to be a princess of the Catswolders, who can shift form from humans to felines. Like the characters, the book is a shapeshifter, alternating between silly and enchanting. The author is reaaly good at capturing feline character, so this should appeal to any cat fancier.
Apr 21, 2016 Nat rated it liked it
lovely and unique! :-)
Oct 27, 2010 Anita rated it really liked it
I read this a while ago and just found it in the garage. I remember liking it a lot, but this time around I just did not have the patience for it, so I skimmed it quickly, but it might be because I have a lot on my mind lately. Still, it is a good story, and the whole shapeshifting thing coulda ended up being cheesy but didn't. I could totally see this as a movie.
Apr 12, 2011 Marissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
Great read, especially for cat-lovers and fantasy fans. The intertwining stories and characters from the Netherworld and the Upperworld ("real world" California) was very entertaining - hard to put down! Excellent incorporation of mythology into a unique view. I wish there were more books about the Catswold Portal!
Feb 04, 2013 Shauna rated it really liked it
Shelves: talking-cats
Okay, I really enjoyed this cat fantasy book while I was reading it. There is lots to love about the dual worlds, the cat/human mystery, and the art! But there are plenty of plot holes and weak points to the story that don't hold up well under critical analysis. So I say, skip the critique and just enjoy it.
Jul 25, 2011 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is the obvious inspiration for her "Joe Grey mysteries" which I love. This is slow to start, and I almost didn't finish it. It helps to know that this is set in the 1950's and not in current times, even though it was published in 1992. Do you have to read this to enjoy Joe, no. Does it help, yes.
Sep 30, 2008 Leah rated it it was amazing
My mom gave me this book after she read it and I thought it sounded silly, to be honest. But I read it because I didn't have anything else to read at the time.

It was great! It was a nice mix of fantasy, adventure, mystery, and romance. It was also clean. I would highly recommend this book.
Diana Petty-stone
Sep 07, 2012 Diana Petty-stone rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fascinating! A grieving artist, an elaborately carved door that leads to the Netherworld and shape-shifters. I am a big fan of Shirley Rousseau Murphy and her Joel Grey series of talking cats. I was a little apprehensive about this book but but was hooked immediately. Give it a try.
Melissa Dally
Mar 13, 2014 Melissa Dally rated it it was amazing
This is a re-read, tho I probably hadn't read it in 10 years. Still love it! I forgot that I find Braden sort of douchey and unimportant but even he can't ruin the 5 stars the rest of the awesomeness of this book brings forth. I would love to see the author revisit this world!
Mary Kay
Mar 30, 2012 Mary Kay rated it liked it
Shelves: genre-fantasy
Fun fantasy for cat lovers, like an Erin Hunter book for grownups! A little woodenly written, but pretty descriptions of San Francisco, along with a compelling storyline with magic and shapeshifting -- and cats who save the world from impending doom -- make for a great escapist read.
Jun 07, 2010 Tamara rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. I love cats, have 3 of them but that is not really what this book is about. Not quite sure what it is about because I was totally lost. I really tried to read it but had to stop at about page 150 when I felt it was all a waste of my time.
Nov 26, 2007 Nona rated it it was amazing
this was by far my favorite book as a child. It is heavily fantasy oriented with characters that morph between human and adorable yet noble kitty cats. I think I had my first fantasy due to a certain love scene that in retrospect was probably mostly bestiality. Good stuff.
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Shirley Murphy grew up in southern California, riding and showing the horses her father trained. She attended the San Francisco Art institute, and later worked as an interior designer while her husband attended USC. "When Pat finished school, I promptly quit my job and began to exhibit paintings and welded metal sculpture in the West Coast juried shows." Her work could also be seen in many traveli ...more
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