This was probably the novella I was most excited for cause although Mapleshade didn’t make that big an impression on me in the main books, I loved her in Crookedstar’s Promise. She was a very unique and sinister villain, who’s motivations weren’t very clear until near the end. At first she seemed supportive of Crookedpaw, but all the while, there was a sinister feeling to her.
Here we finally get to see her backstory, which was explained only briefly in Crookedstar’s Promise. This is quite perfect honestly. It’s not afraid to be violent, but also has its soft moments. My only real critique of it is that Mapleshade is a bit of a blank slate before her kits die. She’s just a nice cat, who was in a bad situation, even worse that the other cats in forbidden couples because she was forced to lie that her leader’s recently deceased son was the father, and when the truth was revealed, the clan was all the more furious, especially when it is revealed that the kits were the children of their beloved deputy’s murderer.
The set up is actually wonderful, and although you can argue ThunderClan is a bit cruel in this book, if you think about it, they really have every right to do what they did. But I’m deviating from the point, which is that Mapleshade could have had a bit more of a distinct personality. I think something sort of like Yellowfang might worked.
Myler. He’s just a dear. He’s Mapleshade’s one chance at redemption. At the end, when Mapleshade is lying on the floor of the barn, inches from death, if she had accepted his companionship in her last breathing moments, I think she would have made it to StarClan. What she did was terrible, sure, but they were crimes of passion and madness. She broke the code, but she didn’t deserve to lose everything for it. There was even an instant before she died where she regretted telling Myler to leave, but by then it’s already too late.
And as far as I know, she’s the only Dark Forest warrior who’s actually pleased to be there. In the prologue of Sunset, we see neither Tigerstar or Darkstripe care for it much. But when Mapleshade arrives she smiles and is eager to be among others similar to herself. This moment cements her destiny as Warriors’s one and only villainess.
May her wick soul forever live on in the Dark Forest.