Felicia: The Night of the Basquot, by Chas. P. A. Melville – book review by Fred Patten.
by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Felicia: The Night of the Basquot, by Chas. P. A. Melville. Illustrated by the author.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, September 2017, trade paperback, $12.00 (257 pages), Kindle $9.99.
“‘So!’ crowed Felicia happily. And then she frowned. ‘So,’’ she repeated, more uncertainly. And then, in puzzlement, ‘So.’ Her ears flicked as she turned to stare at the rising sun. ‘So, what’s a ‘Basquot’ anyway?’” (p. 86)
Felicia cla di Burrows, the vixen renegade sorceress blackballed from the Magic Council, is thirty years old this year. She first appeared as an enigmatic background character when Melville began self-publishing The Champion of Katara comic book, #1 dated August-September 1987. Now she has her first novel.
Spiteful and egocentric, all that was really clear was that Felicia had been horribly mistreated as a child. She began studying sorcery — including forbidden black magic — to gain revenge against those who had destroyed her family. But her heart was not really in being evil, and she kept using her magic to help others while postponing her vendetta against her family’s enemies. As a flawed ‘good guy’ and a colorful, charismatic character, Felicia became the most popular of Melville’s anthro animal cast when he moved to Seattle and became active in the furry community there, and he resumed his comic-book stories for Edd Vick’s MU Press in the 1990s. Felicia’s most dramatic and complex adventure was the 184-page graphic novel Felicia: Melari’s Wish (August 1994). Later in the ’90s, she starred in three lighter stand-alone stories as a sorceress-for-hire without the dark background of her vengeance goal, written by Melville and drawn by Bill Schmickle, in MU’s anthology comic-book ZU.
Melville later brought Felicia back in a series of text novelette booklets, with illustrations every few pages, published by CaféPress. These continued the lighter stories in ZU. Felicia became a professional sorceress-for-hire/detective who got involved with finding and dispelling ancient evils, or preventing their escape to wreak havoc in Katara and its neighboring animal kingdoms of Dogonia, Bruinsland (bears), Scentas (skunks), Rodentia (mice), and others. Melville wrote five of these, from Felicia and the Dreaded Book of Un (February 2004) to Felicia and the Border Collie Patrol (January 2008). One, Felicia and the Tailcutter’s Curse (June 2004), won that year’s Ursa Major Award in the Best Short Fiction category. All five were republished as a single book, The Vixen Sorceress (CreateSpace, December 2008).
Melville began producing a Felicia webcomic, Felicia, Sorceress of Katara, in December 2007, but for the last nine years there have been almost no Felicia text adventures. Now Felicia is back in a 257-page novel.
Felicia: The Night of the Basquot is her origin story, and an introduction to her world (which might be described as Tolkien lite, with funny animals). It begins when Felicia emerges in Katara from a mysterious seven-year disappearance, crackling with magic energy and ready to join the all-powerful Magi Council (a.k.a. the Brotherhood of the Candle) as its newest and youngest sorceress. Instead, she is shocked and infuriated to learn that she has been rejected.