Praise for THE BOBCAT (Arcade/Skyhorse, June 2019)


Read an excerpt at Dartmouth Alumni Magazine

“Teeming with lush imagery and mystical settings, and brimming with alluring magical realism, Riley’s tale is a beguiling journey of discovery and recovery.”


The Bobcat is a heartfelt, revelatory, and moving novel about how the way back to our humanity and to the humanity of others leads us sometimes through the animal world. Surprising, precise, and full of love for the immeasurable possibilities of the human heart.

~Alexander Chee, PEN Award Finalist and Author of HOW TO WRITE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL

It would be easy—and true—to say that Katherine Forbes Riley's The Bobcat moves the way that beautiful feline does: with sinuous grace, coiled wildness, and ferocious independence. Yet this novel braves more than that. It probes and tests the lines between the animal and the human, safety and threat, art and daily life, health and illness through characters and language of luminous intensity and rare, real power. Haunting, haunted, truly elegant, this novel will stalk your dreams and days in equal measure. 

~Charlotte Bacon, PEN Award Winning Author of A PRIVATE STATE

In THE BOBCAT, Katherine Forbes Riley has created an honest, unflinching account of the aftermath of a sexual assault. There is profound empathy in the novel’s depiction of the wounded young artist Laurelie, and Riley’s great accomplishment is to show the tortured process by which this courageous woman stumblingly, imperfectly, navigates a hostile world while simultaneously recreating herself. A strange beauty pervades the novel, even in Laurelie's descriptions of her own terror—the sort of beauty born of careful design. This narrative is dead set on bringing the reader face to face with truth. By turns raw, hallucinogenic, redemptive, and always deeply intelligent, it’s a novel of the moment and one that deserves a wide audience. 

~ Jack Livings, PEN Award Winning Author of THE DOG: STORIES

I read this beautiful book with my heart in my throat.  The world of The Bobcat is immersive, fully saturated, and deeply interior in the best possible way.  A visceral and authentic depiction of the aftermath of trauma, the novel is also a moving exploration of the power of artistic creation and its capacity to make sense of both the light and dark sides of human experience. 

~Kate Day, Author of IF, THEN

Saturated with emotion, vivid and sensual, THE BOBCAT tells the gripping story of a young woman rebuilding her life and self after trauma. Katherine Forbes Riley takes us deep into the Vermont woods to show the power of nature, art, animal companionship, and human connection. An exquisite debut.

~Julia Phillips, Author of DISAPPEARING EARTH

This novel is mesmerizing! Completely unpredictable and engaging. I loved the sentences and the descriptions and the characters.

~Sarah Blake, Author of NAAMAH

Katherine Forbes Riley's tender artistry and elegant prose exalt one woman's painful tale of violence in a violent world to a memorable novel where people's capacity for humaneness and love pulsate from the center. The Bobcat is graceful, profound assurance of man's perpetual instincts to refuge in nature and commune with the beasts every time our own humanity or our fellowman fails us. 

~Kalisha Buckhanon, author of SPEAKING OF SUMMER and SOLEMN

With its atmospherically picturesque prose and it’s delicious slow burn of a plot, THE BOBCAT was a delightful read. Told in gorgeous, crystalline images, etched deeply with detail, the story emerges slowly and satisfyingly. THE BOBCAT is true literature, and a work of high art. 

~Gina Guadagnino, Author of THE PARTING GLASS

THE BOBCAT is an intensely lyrical, deeply involving novel about what it means to be a human animal. Blending gorgeous nature imagery, philosophical curiosity, and a story as insistent as a heartbeat, this book will grab you by the scruff of the neck and won't let go. 

~ Jennie Yabroff, Author of IF YOU WERE HERE

All the more impressive when considering that "The Bobcat" is author Katherine Forbes Riley's debut as a novelist, this inherently compelling, deftly scripted, and thoroughly entertaining page turner of a read is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections.


Riley's riveting novel, THE BOBCAT, inexorably pulls readers into a strange world full of possible dangers in which the physical and the psychological are rendered in stunning detail. But she reveals, too, the beauty inherent in this world--if you can bear to let it in, if you can learn to trust again. Intense, surprising and thought-provoking, this story ultimately allows that souls and bodies can in fact heal, and that meaningful human connection is both possible and valuable.

~Katrin Schumann, Author of THE FORGOTTEN HOURS

A mesmerizing novel, The Bobcat is the story of Laurelie, who has transferred to a college in rural Vermont after being sexually assaulted. Fearful and emotionally fragile, she spends her time channeling her emotions into art and caring for her landlord’s toddler, until she encounters a hiker tracking an injured bobcat through the woods. As Laurelie and the hiker come together, and Laurelei grows to understand the hiker's uncanny ability to sense the world around him, Riley uses language, both precise and lushly descriptive, to show how true connection does not depend on words. In an age of tell-all stories and healing through talk therapy, it’s a radical act. Though there is plot and mystery enough to drive this novel, what really powers it is Riley’s profound sense of empathy and her gorgeous writing – about people, animals, the natural world, fear, love and hope. This is the kind of novel that makes you turn the pages to discover what becomes of the hiker, Laurelie, the bobcat and the toddler - and then makes you slow down to savor the telling itself. 

~ Karen Dukess, Author of THE LAST BOOK PARTY

What a beautiful, thoughtful, touching debut. Part love letter to nature, part artist exploration, part love story set in a bygone era when life was simpler... The Bobcat had me at turns flipping pages to find out what happens, and re-reading pages to soak in the expansive and lovely prose. Katherine Forbes Riley steps onto the scene like a master storyteller, comfortable in her craft and precise in her presentation. This hauntingly lovely book will be a favorite of book clubs, and people in search of a novel with genuine heart and wonder. 

~Meghan Scott Molin, Author of THE FRAME-UP

Katherine Forbes Riley’s debut novel The Bobcat is deeply evocative, written in lush, delicious prose about a wounded young woman and her journey towards healing. With the help of her artwork and an unusual hiker she meets, the two come together, find love in this mystical tale that will linger with readers like a haunting dream. Highly recommend. 

~Marlene Adelstein, Author of SOPHIE LAST SEEN

The Bobcat is a captivating debut from Riley. It's short, under two hundred pages, but oh so stunning that you'll want to savor this read. Laurelie, the main character, is vividly drawn and the reader is immediately invested in her journey. The magical elements coupled with the perfect setting only enriched the story. Riley's prose is engaging and evocative. I absolutely loved her gift for description and imagery. I can't wait to read more from this talented author. 

~Juno Rushdan, Author of EVERY LAST BREATH

Poignant and evocative, lyrical and intimate—and above all startlingly original—Katherine Forbes Riley's mesmerizing debut The Bobcat is one of those rare novels that fully embraces the interiority of its characters while never sacrificing in story or pacing. Written in a unique and elegant style full of richly descriptive prose that captures both the physical landscape of rural Vermont and the fraught psychological territory of its protagonist, this is a beautifully crafted book that dares to access the isolation that haunts us in the aftermath of trauma; it is also a redemptive story about the power of human connection to see us through our darkest moments.


Equally intimate and expansive, THE BOBCAT is one of the most unique books I've ever read. Riley's prose works equally as exquisite storytelling and its own thematic device to capture the isolating nature of trauma -- and the path out. All of this is wrapped in very human relationships and lush descriptions of the wilderness for a fast, distinctive read that will haunt you long after the final page.

~Mike Chen, Author of HERE AND NOW AND THEN

The Bobcat is a mesmerizing lyrical novel that you don’t want to rush through. I savored every beautiful sentence and description of the natural world, the people and animals. Full of empathy and compassion, this is a story about how we heal from trauma and what it takes to begin trusting again. Laurelie is a compelling protagonist with rich interior life and I was very much invested in her journey on the road to recovery and her relationship to the little boy, the hiker and the bobcat.

~Daniela Petrova, Author of HER DAUGHTER'S MOTHER

There are so many strong elements to this book, it's a little hard to know where to start. THE BOBCAT is a masterpiece of understated grace, an insightful study of trauma and healing, and a work whose narrative power shines with the strength of its skillful prose. There's something of the fairy tale to this book in the way it presents scenes stripped of non-essential details. In less talented hands, that could leave settings and characters feeling flat or ill imagined. But Riley writes with an artist's eye for detail and a poet's ear for language. Over and over she places the perfect words in exactly the right order, transforming mundane scenes into something much deeper and true, just as the protagonist Laurelie does with her own artwork. In THE BOBCAT, everything that makes it to the page feels essential and vibrantly real. But even better than the beauty of the prose is the honest depiction of recovery. Laurelie's journey isn't predicated on finding someone to fix (or to fix her). Instead, she takes incremental steps over time, rediscovering herself and encountering setbacks along the way, in the same way that a medical condition might take lifelong treatment and monitoring. This realistic portrayal of recovery is light years from the superficial takes we often see in stories, and it makes the narrative that much stronger and more engaging. An extremely impressive debut, THE BOBCAT is a compelling and rewarding read.

~Dan Stout, Author of TITANSHADE

The novel is richly observed, the depth and detail of its description a particular strength. It has been described as ‘immersive’ and I’ll tell you why: you will lose yourself in this book. The words and sentences are enough to keep you turning the pages, even if the story were less than the fascinating tale that it is. The main character has been raped. The arc of the novel tracks the ways she comes back to her body after this trauma, and especially in the beginning the prose effects a kind of distancing; as the book goes on the reader is gradually allowed closer to the personal aspects of Laurelie’s internal life. The Bobcat of the title first appears in the same scene as the Hiker, who experiences physical sensations that might be described as cat-like; he is super-sensitive, to sounds, tastes, smells, physical sensations, and to Laurelie. Disaster strikes more than once in this evenly-paced and entirely absorbing novel, leaving the reader gasping to know the outcome. The ending is perfect.

~Melanie Golding, Author of LITTLE DARLINGS

In this beautiful book, Katherine Forbes Riley gives us a love story between two people living in relative isolation in the woods of Vermont. While Laurelie struggles to move past a sexual assault from her recent past, an enigmatic hiker follows a wounded bobcat and ends up pulling Laurelie out of the panic and darkness that hangs heavy over her life. In addition to being a moving story of healing, resilience, and love, THE BOBCAT includes so many lush and exquisite details that make the setting of this novel leap from the page. It also includes a line that, in my opinion, perfectly encapsulates the gift and challenge of being a teacher in the arts. As Laurelie steps into teaching duties herself, she muses how “each student was like a puzzle, finding the right artists to show, the right words to deconstruct their art and make it open up, so the student would see it working just like his or her own.

~Megan Collins, Author of THE WINTER SISTER

This book snuck up on me, its quiet fairytale quality perfect for the story of a traumatized young woman’s search for a way out of isolation and fear. Riley’s grasp of nature and art and human psychology are on full display in this spellbinding tale of connection and chemistry. It did remind me in part of HISTORY OF WOLVES but also GLACIERS by Alexis Smith and, oddly, TIME OF WONDER by the children’s author Robert McCloskey. A book to ponder long after the final page.

~Susan Bernhard, Author of THE WINTER LOON

I received an advance copy of the BOBCAT. I knew next to nothing about the book when I started it, and I think this might actually be the way I would recommend anyone read it. The narrative forces you to keep your distance, the book itself as cautious as the main character about letting anyone get close. Compelling and haunting, but truly difficult to define. Like one of its subplots about an art school student’s meetings with her instructor, it defies your attempt to categorize it, or to be beholden to a single genre’s expectations. I think, like my experience, it’s best to have no preconceptions, and trust the story to take care of you in its own unique way. It is a bold experiment of a book that pays off, drawing you into an introspective, nearly dialogue-less relationship that is both comfortable and mysterious, forcing you to re-evaluate your expectations—and if you ever really needed them.

~Nathan Makaryk, Auther of NOTTINGHAM