One innocent reunion. One dark and deadly secret. And the truth that threatens them all.
Nostalgic high school senior Michael Jackson wants nothing more than to reunite with his friends from elementary school—and possibly change his name. Transferring before middle school after his parents’ nasty divorce, Michael always felt he was at his happiest back in his Oklahoma hometown. Inviting his lifelong crush Catherine, among other former classmates, to a spring break reunion party seems like the perfect plan for Michael to get closure on the formative years of his life.
Yet nothing is as he remembers when Michael finds himself entangled in his own confusion between reality and nightmare. Suddenly, secrets from his childhood resurface, and the fanatic ringleader from Michael’s past will do whatever it takes to silence his friends. Now it’s up to Michael to save them all before it’s too late. But does he have the courage and strength to go up against his own worst enemy.
In this quirky psychological thriller from the mind of Bryant A. Loney, Michael will go through hell and high water as he faces his inner demons, unaware that the revelation he seeks demands the ultimate sacrifice.
Genre: YA, Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Verona Booksellers
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Bryant A. Loney’s latest work is a contemporary thriller unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Stunningly real characters, nail-biting suspense and breathless plot twists are wrapped up neatly in a coming-of-age page-turner that had me second-guessing myself every few minutes. If you take one thing from this review, let it be this: Read this book. But do it when you’re relatively mentally stable.
Despite not having a great history with psychological thrillers, there was something about Take Me To The Cat that really drew me in. As has become standard procedure for me when reading Loney’s previous books (namely To Hear The Ocean Sigh and Exodus in Confluence, both of which you need to check out), I planned to savour it but ended up devouring it in one sitting. Then I read it again.
Loney’s writing style is the main reason I’m so entranced by his books, and somehow it got even better in Take Me To The Cat. He has this incredible skill with words, such that he’s able to find a perfect balance of constructing artful, evocative sentences that don’t detract from the action. That’s an extremely rare talent, not only for someone of his age, but also one seldom seen in the YA genre any more. Additionally, his style creates a false sense of security, interwoven with slowly building suspense that only enhances the effect of plot twists, which in their own right are expertly executed and left me feeling dizzy and disoriented – in the best way.
The only criticism I have is in relation to pacing. Admittedly, although a slow build is crucial for creating that slightly uneasy atmosphere unique to psychological thrillers, I found the offset of the novel rather sluggish and dreary. The first 80 pages felt like an endless wait for something interesting to take place, and I think most of my frustration could have been avoided if the pace had been just slightly faster. Once the novel found its feet, though, this problem disappeared entirely.
To end this review on a high note, I’m going to gush about the characters for a while, because oh my god. I can’t say that any of the characters in Take Me To The Cat are particularly likable – in fact, I remember actively disliking Michael for his spineless, nostalgic attitude towards his life, and his friends for their self-absorbed pettiness. But, amazingly, by the end of the novel I found that I genuinely cared about each of them. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with Michael and Troy, but in my opinion that’s a hallmark of truly brilliant character construction. In addition to his creation of realistic, flawed people that seem as though they could walk out of the pages at any second, Loney also takes measures to have as diverse and representative a cast as possible, which just made his book even better.
Overall, Take Me To The Cat is an exhilarating novel of friendship, fear, nostalgia and personal discovery, all combined within a plot that will leave your heart and mind racing. If you don’t read it for the adrenaline rush, do it for the characters. Then read it again for the writing.
Keep this author in your sights – he’s going places.
Recommended to: Fans of early Stephen King searching for a fresh voice.