Review: The Thirteen Black Cats of Edith Penn by Sean McDonough

I loved this book! Are these kitties evil or misunderstood? You be the judge.

The Thirteen Black Cats of Edith Penn by Sean McDonough

Released December 2021

Dark Fiction  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Bookshop

What potion can restore a young girl's invalid mother to full health? What spell would give a bullied teenager the power to strike back against her tormentors?

Edith Penn knew. If you believed the stories whispered around town, there wasn't anything that the old witch couldn't do for the right price.

But that's all over now. Edith Penn is dead. Buried. Forgotten.

...But something is alive in the small town of New Birmingham. Something that only grows stronger every day. The dying here has only just begun, and nobody can say when it's going to end.

Nobody except for the thirteen black cats of Edith Penn.

Come back under the spell as Sean McDonough returns with a new novel of witchcraft and terror!

My 2 Cents For Free!

Do you like cats? Do you like cats who might be a little bit evil and who might want to take a little revenge on a jerk or twenty? THERE IS ONLY ONE CORRECT ANSWER AND IT ISN’T NO! 😹 Even if you answered incorrectly, I’m thinking you will still have tons of fun with this dark magical gory gem. I know I sure did!

I’ve read a few books by this author and they’ve all been what I’d consider fun gory B movies in book format and I love knowing I can step into one and forget all of the stresses of the world and enjoy them with unabashed dark amusement, taking glee and solace in watching some awful folks suffer.

So, the story begins when an old woman named Edith Penn is found dead. That’s nothing new, right? Many a book starts out in such a way so what’s the big deal? Well, this isn’t your ordinary recovering a dead body scene. This woman, the town witch, has been devoured by her 13 black cats who have been feasting on her flesh and who are found drenched in her blood and other bits, haha. How kind of Edith to give back to the earth and complete the circle of life, right?! I tell my kids that if I die a kooky old cat lady to please let my cats eat me instead of doing all that embalming nonsense and toxifying up the world and they think I am kidding. I am only half kidding, tbh, because the whole death industry makes my skin crawl. Anyhow, this scene was all kinds of nasty fun until I learned what they planned to do to the cats who have tasted flesh, and then I had a mini oh shit moment. Oops, maybe I’ll have to change my death plans after all! But there’s no need to worry here. These cats are wily and people are pervy and crooked and the cats are soon unleashed upon the town to wreak complete havoc on those who deserve it and also on a few who don’t (oops).

The story follows the cats as they cozy up in their new homes and several of their new caretakers. Before long strange things start to occur. I will not reveal any of them because you should discover all of it on your own. There is magic and evil afoot and lots of carnage! The book also flips back in time to tell the story of Edith, explain who she was and how she ended up the way she did. I found it all endlessly fascinating. I think I could’ve read an entire book about just her journey because she was such an interesting character.

This book is filled with murder and mayhem and it has some great moments of humor thrown in just where they’re needed. I always love it when an author can gross me out, force me to care about the characters, and also make me laugh. Dark and gloomy is fantastic but too many in a row can sometimes be a bit too much to handle so a book like this is refreshing - as weird as that may sound.

My only minor complaint, and it might be my too-stressed brain, are the number of characters who pop in and out. There was a time or two when I was a little confused about who was who but eventually I caught on. I’d recommend reading it in a sitting or two, if possible.

This book was so much fun. It was a gloriously evil tale with several scenes that I won’t soon forget. It went off in a few unexpected directions and even tried to break my heart a time or two. Very highly recommended if you like the wild gruesome stuff!

4 1/2 ? 5? I dunno. I'm bad at this. I really enjoyed it so I'm giving it a five.


This review is my personal reading experience. Yours may differ. Don't be blaming me if it does! 

About Author Sean McDonough

Raised on Goosebumps, the horror section at Blockbuster, and other things he shouldn't have been exposed to at eight years old, Sean McDonough is a fresh new voice in horror fiction. His books evoke a sense of gleeful gruesomeness and dark humor, perfect for keeping the Halloween spirit alive all year long.


  1. Yay! Murderous cats! As much as Charlie demands his food, I'm sure he'd eat me if I let his bowl get below 15 morsels.

  2. Dark, murder-y, and funny, too? This book does sound like a fun read! :)

  3. Ooh I'm pulling for the kitties :)

  4. At first I thought the cover was too cute for the synopsis until you said it's like a fun, gory B movie. Then I'm like, "It's perfect!" Entertaining review.

  5. love the cover and it does sound like a good fit for me too. thanks for sharing the great review
    sherry @ fundinmental

  6. Replies
    1. It's a great horror novel. I hope more people discover it!


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