The Underneath

The Underneath

by Kathi Appelt, David Small (Illustrator)
Publisher: Atheneum
Reprint, ©2010, ISBN: 9781416950592
Trade Paperback, 336 pages
List Price: $8.99 Sale Price: $7.64

Ranger, an old hound, has gotten on his owner's bad side. After a run-in with a bobcat, he has a bullet in his leg, and Gar Face leaves him chained to the corner of his rotting house. Ranger is underfed and quite lonely when the calico cat finds him—and loves him enough to stay there to have her kittens, Puck and Sabine. They'll be safe if they stay under the the Underneath.

Gar Face, beaten unmercifully by his father, ran away as a young teen and now lives deep in the bayous on the Louisiana border. He has forsaken human companionship and does nothing but hunt and drink. But he still has one ambition: to capture and kill the huge ancient alligator that haunts his swamps. He cares nothing for anyone and wouldn't think twice about using a cat for alligator bait.

Meanwhile, an ancient evil—a lamia, half serpent, half human—lies buried in a jar in the roots of a thousand year old pine. She waits patiently for her chance to escape...

Though Kathi Appelt has written over 30 books, this is her first novel. She obviously loves words, repeating them often, using subtle turns of phrase to explore their meanings and the feelings they can evoke. This makes the story quite beautiful in ways, but also slows the pace. In the story, she explores the themes of love (and hate), the fragility of happiness, and the importance of keeping your word.

Review by Eli Evans
Formerly home educated and now father of five, Eli loves discovering amazing books, new and old, and is an artistic curator at heart. The owner and manager of Exodus since 1998, his focus is on offering thoughtful and well-written books that inspire the imagination and promote creativity and diligence while living for God. Read more of his reviews here.
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Exodus Rating: 
FLAWS: Violence
Summary: An old hound and his cat family struggle for survival in a bayou on the Texas/Louisiana border.

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