Sophie and Max by Antoinette Corum

Sophie and Max by Antoinette Corum
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Genre: Childrens, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (120 pages)
Age Recommendation: 8+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

One evening, as a beautiful young scientist fights for her life in a damp alley, there is a hiccup in the flow of space and time. At the precise moment she draws her last breath, a shift in the cosmos provides an opportunity for a new life in a new form. The Siamese cat is cold and wet when a kindly old man walks by the alley and hears her cry. He rescues the cat and takes her to his apartment above the book shop he owns. He introduces her to the shaggy mutt Max who shares his home, and it’s hate at first sight! Max is upset to have an interloper—a cat, no less—share his living space and affection with Mr. Cavaliere. When the old man decides that the Siamese reminds him of the Italian movie star, Sophia Loren, jealousy bites Max right on the nose! As cat and dog eye each other suspiciously, the Siamese faces the growing uneasiness that she doesn’t belong in this feline body. But she’s going to need Max’s help to solve this problem. Max has decided the cat is the problem and the sooner he gets rid of her, the better. With the use of ancient books, powerful crystals, and magic chants, Sophie and Max set off on adventures across space and time. In their travels, in both animal and human form, they meet good guys and bad guys, including a helpful wizard and an evil villain. They learn the value of cooperation and trust. They learn how to compromise and improvise on the spot. And, in looking out for each other, they learn the true meaning of friendship.

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This book had a terrific sense of humor. I especially enjoyed the conversations that Sophie and Max had with each other. They were often sarcastic with one another but never in a mean-spirited way. Instead, their dialogue was more like a competition to see who could say the most truthful but also outlandish thing possible. It was nice to see them get so many opportunities to one-up each other.

There were some pacing issues. As intrigued as I was by the blurb, I found my attention wandering as Max and Sophie’s adventures continued because of how much the plot was stretched out to cover them. The number of things they experienced seemed like they could have been covered by a smaller number of pages. It would have been helpful to either have more conflict in the storyline or fewer scenes to explore what happened to these characters after they met.

The magic in this universe was described well. While it took me a while to understand the rules that governed how it worked, even the most complicated parts made sense once I’d gathered a few more clues. I also liked the fact that the characters were just as confused about this sort of magic as I was at first. It made a great deal of sense for them to need some time to put all of the pieces together as well. Watching them eventually figure it out was satisfying.

Sophie and Max should be read by anyone who loves animals.