REVIEW: For He Can Creep by Siobhan Carroll
Siobhan Carroll’s For He Can Creep is a dark fantasy story of poetry, devilry, and cats in a battle of good vs. evil for the fate of humanity.
Nineteenth century poet Christopher Smart has been committed to St. Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics believing God has commissioned him to write The Divine Poem. But years earlier, he made a bargain with Satan and the devil has come to collect his due–a poem that will bring about the apocalypse.
Saving Smart’s soul, and the rest of the world, falls to Jeoffry, the poet’s demon-fighting cat and a creature of cunning Satan would be a fool to underestimate…
Dear Ms. Carroll,
It was fate that brought the cover of your short story to my notice. The description of a cat who must battle Satan for the fate of humanity clinched the deal. I am, after all, a cat person. The story is short but wow, what a story! What cats! And what an ass kicking kitten!
Jeoffry lives in the insane asylum with his person who is a poet. The poet has lived a life of past debauchery but now is locked up while he writes a poem about God’s Divinity and gets ducked each day by the madhouse attendants. But one night someone else comes looking for the poet to write a different kind of poem. To get past Jeoffry, about whom his imps have complained to him, Satan tempts Jeoffry with a feast – a magnificent feast of fish heads,crispy salmon skin, bowls of cream, and Turkish Delight.
No, I don’t understand that last one either.
His fur might stand on end and he knows that there’s something definitely wrong about this but there’s a huge bowl of cream right there and poor Jeoffry spends hours gorging himself only to wake the next day and realize that you should never take the devil at his word. Jeoffry is miffed. Jeoffry is angry. Jeoffry knows he might actually have been a [gasp] bad cat and things have to be set right. He must get his due as a cat. But to get that he will have to battle his pride as well as the devil.
I love brave Jeoffry. No, I adore him and love him. He is a cat of magnificence who knows his true worth and doesn’t let anyone forget it. He might let himself be waylaid by a feast and treats few cats could resist but he is also ready to battle for his human and for all humanity. To do this he must remember that he is “descended from angels and as such can move into the spaces between the world-we-see and the world-that-is.” He can creep! Another character who I want to sweep up and cuddle is the fearsome black kitten who screams at the devil –
But no, I will avoid speaking more about Nighthunter Moppet aside from the fact that she can, at times, be distracted by brown beetles. She is too wonderful not to be experienced without spoilers. The scene between all four cats is also one I wriggled with delight and almost purred with happiness as I read. The fierce fight they wage against the devil – and his powdered wig – is a thing of magnificence. Told from the viewpoint of Jeoffry – as it should be – the story is as graceful and elegant as a cat. A