Wednesday 4 November 2020

Cat Step by Alison Irvine Book Review

 I've mentioned in quite a few posts this year just how my reading tastes have changed. I still like my romances and more light-hearted books but I have found a real love for stories within the crime and thriller genres.

Something about how they are written really grabs my attention and at times the storylines are utterly mesmerising.

So when I was contacted by someone from Dead Ink Books to see if I would like to read and review Alison Irvine's latest novel Cat Step, I was quite keen to see what she had to offer, especially as this was an author that I hadn't heard of before that email.

She only left her daughter in the car for a minute; just a quick minute whilst she ran into the shop. She barely thought twice about making the decision, but it soon began to consume her every thought. And not just her thoughts, but those of every neighbour, police officer and social security worker in a 15-mile radius. But this is her child. Surely she knows best?

After she’d made the move to a small town in Scotland, the rolling hills and blustery beaches seemed to be the perfect backdrop for her and her four-year-old daughter, Emily, to start again. It wasn’t always easy just the two of them, but Liz was sure that she could manage this time. And now this?

I found this tale to be compelling from the get go.

Split into two parts, Liz (who is the protagonist) tells the story of how herself and her daughter Emily came to be in Lennoxtown and the events that eventually lead up to them leaving this place that they never quite call home.

Shrouded in mystery, the book begins with Liz making the mistake of leaving her daughter in the car whilst she makes a speedy trip to the shop. Where many wouldn't get caught, Liz not only gets reprimanded for this lack of judgement as well becoming the victim of someone attempting to break into her car.

Sometimes, one mistake is all it takes to unravel everything.

Wrong place wrong time? Perhaps. 

But this one seemingly small mistake paves the way for other pressing events that lead Liz down a darker path than she intended to take.

Staying temporarily at her now deceased partners Nan's house, who unfortunately has also passed away. Liz has stepped in to clear the house and supervise decorating so that it can be put on the market. As the reader I understood the inferences throughout. 

This is a single mum trying her best to do the right thing for her family. Stress levels are high with finances tight and Emily - her daughter - being quite an attached child. However Liz is managing, or so she thinks but to those looking in they can see the struggle.

Whilst there, Liz successfully attains a temporary job teaching ballet in a sheltered housing facility. It’s here that Liz meets June, who quickly became my favourite character with her no nonsense attitude. Later on it’s revealed that Robbie, Emily's father, used to hang out with June’s son. That piece of information alone doesn't seem highly significant, but it opens up a can of worms about how well Liz really knew Robbie? 

One lie has spiralled into many.

Now Liz isn't just questioning her ability to be a mum, she's wondering what in her life is real and what's not.

Cat Step from the out set seems like a fairly simple story but as I progressed through it, it became so much more.

This is a tale of motherhood, of that overwhelming feeling of guilt that I'm sure all of us who are parents can relate to. What is the right thing to do? Who has the right to say anything, to give their input? I think what this novel highlights is society's need to judge and advise at any given moment. 

We are so quick to forget that everyone has their own story to tell, each child and adult are unique and we cannot be aware of their circumstances and what leads to the decisions they make. Cat Step shows us just how haunting those judgements can be and the consequences of such harsh thinking.

After reading this book, I feel like we could all do with taking a step back and being a little kinder, both to ourselves and others as we never truly know what someone else has been through or is going through at any given moment.

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