The Bobcat

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Title: The Bobcat

Writer:Katherine Forbes Riley

Publishing House:Skyhorse Publishing

Date of Publication:June 5th 2019

Rating: 5 stars

”They guarded against her own ghosts as well; whenever the atmosphere grew somber or anxious, first one cat and then the other would spontaneously tear through the room, ears cocked and eyes wild, claws skittering for purchase as they chased invisibles across the old wideboard floors.”

A young woman has left Philadelphia for a small community in the mystical Appalachian Mountains, trying to recover from a nightmarish sexual assault. An Art student, she has established a peaceful life in her quiet cottage, living in close proximity to nature and the little boy she babysits is her only friend. However, change comes swiftly on a late April day when Lorelei stumbles upon a bobcat and a strange hiker. The Appalachian Trail is full of surprises…

”[…] until all signs of civilization faded way and only wilderness remained.”

Katherine Forbes Riley has created a novel that communicates its message through the beauty and secrecy of the forest and the silence that carries our thoughts to our hearts. At least, this is how I felt while I was reading The Bobcat. It wasn’t an easy experience from which the reader escapes unscathed. The budding lilacs, the soft sunlight, the mystical blue hour cannot prevent the trauma that returns again and again and Laurelie has to fight against a heartless mother, a rude landlady, creepy fellow students and above all, her own frightening demons. Wilderness is a cocoon that protects and isolates, leaving the darkness behind. Everything is better than the unpredictable, threatening presence of humans. Laurelie is the soul that knows healing comes through our powerful bond with Nature. After all, what is better than hiking and listening to the whispering trees?

”[…] the river’s low burble and the forest’s stillness […]”

Laurelie reflects the nature that surrounds her. She may come across as quiet and timid but her resilience and strength to trust herself and the one who responds to her loneliness makes her a very memorable character. The restricted use of dialogue helps us understand her even better. As we experience the story through her eyes she becomes a friend whose almost aetherial presence is a welcoming company. As an artist, Laurelie views her world through images of Monet and Gauguin, Warhol and Rembrandt, Dali, Klimt and Cezanne. Riley’s beautiful descriptions reflect the ingenuity of a great artist. I could feel I was there, in the forest, witnessing the changing light falling on the leaves, casting shadows through the branches of the trees.

A story of resilience and hope, a story about the relationship between Nature and the human being, a story of darkness and light. The Bobcat is an extraordinary debut by an extremely talented author.

”The fog light heightened contrasts, turning the trunks dark and the low growth bright, and the air between them almost blue. But though she remained there watching for a long time, nothing else moved.”

Many thanks to Skyhorse Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.