One day somebody at Disney woke up and realized that there are eight Mary Poppins books and decided to cash in on that revelation with a new live-action movie. Not that I have anything against our favorite umbrella-wielding British nanny, but seriously Hollywood, is this all you’ve got? Apparently they’ve never read anything by Katherine Neville. Hailed by The Washington Post as “a feminist answer to Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Neville’s 1988 cult classic The Eight (Ballantine Books, 1997) is an international bestseller in more than 40 languages. Now available in eBook for the first time ever, it’s time that a new generation of readers discovered the Neville-verse of romance, history, mysticism, espionage and secret societies.
Call me crazy, but this sounds like it has a lot more action-adventure potential than a spoonful of sugar. The heroine in The Eight is a 23-year-old computer expert who manages to hold an impressive job all while saving the world from a nefarious chess set. That’s more than I can claim in a day. Catherine “Cat” Velis brings to mind Caitriona Balfe from Outlander meets a less introverted version of Rooney Mara in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Krysten Ritter from Jessica Jones. Cat Velis is sent on a special mission to Algeria for an assignment that ultimately lands her in the middle of a centuries-long battle between good and evil that involves Charlemagne, a gaggle of nuns, Catherine the Great and the chess set to beat all chess sets.
Intrigued? Even more interesting is the fact that Cat Velis’ life parallels Neville’s, who worked for 20 years as an international consultant and computer executive in energy and finance. Neville also traveled to countries on three different continents (including Algeria) and brings her rich life experience to each page. In The Eight, each chapter flips back and forth from 1790 to 1972 and has several nail-biting cliffhangers that will leave readers wanting to skip ahead. What could be better as an epic, sprawling quest movie?
I’d love to see Rooney Mara or Krysten Ritter as Cat. For Cat’s over-the-top friend Lily Rad, how about Rebel Wilson? And for the love interest, Russian chess expert Alexander Solarin, Tom Hardy would be smokin’ hot.
If you love The Eight, you may want to immerse yourself in Katherine Neville’s classics and download A Calculated Risk, The Magic Circle and the The Fire, the sequel to The Eight. Here’s hoping they get optioned for the big screen. Are you listening, Hollywood?