Review: Shadow Cat

cover-shadow catTitle: Shadow Cat
Author: Gillian Cross
Series: – –
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Length: Novel
Available: Now

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An unlikely friendship.
An incredible secret.
An adventure of a lifetime . . .

Nolan leaves school one day to discover that his mum has dyed her hair bright green, sold everything they own, and they’re going on a road trip . . .

On the way he meets Feather, the adopted daughter of a famous rock star. This mismatched pair appear to have nothing in common, until they discover an escaped wild cat, a serval, that needs their protection.

Together they vow to keep it a secret. But someone else wants the serval too. Someone who will stop at nothing to get their hands on it . . .


Source: Review copy from Amazon Vine

Combining an unplanned road trip, an unlikely friendship, a boy caring for his bipolar mother and the enchantment of a beautiful, wild and threatened serval, this book is a great read. Nolan’s life has slipped out of his control since his mother woke up one day, dyed her hair green and insisted on being called Ro. Now she’s given up their flat, got rid of all their possessions and bought a camper van for them to live in. There’s little Nolan can do but go along with her, waiting for her mood to crash, while taking care of both of them as best he can. Then he meets Feather one night on the hillside and the serval comes between them, bringing secrets and danger and a strange new friendship.

I liked Nolan, he’s just an ordinary kid struggling to cope with the swift changes his mother’s illness keeps bringing into their lives. He’s isolated and burdened with responsibilities but does his best to keep his mum safe. It’s no wonder that when the serval crosses his path he wants to help it too, wants to keep it free. It’s very similar to the way he hides his mother’s illness, and ties in with his own feelings of helplessness.

Luckily for him Feather’s on hand to help. There’s very little to connect them at first – he’s poor and hopeless, she’s the adopted daughter of a rich rock star. He sees her as pampered and spoilt, she sees him as unfettered and free, yet the pair of them find common ground with the serval and gradually become friends through trust and hope. Which is just what they need since the adults around them aren’t always trustworthy or reliable (aside from Mrs J and Alasdair), and some of them (Vix) are downright frightening.

The story sets a steady pace that gradually builds in tension until it erupts into action for the grand finale as secrets are exposed and danger threatens. The serval remains at the heart of it throughout, though it’s only seen in glimpses. I love servals, I think they’re amazing, so it was great to see a different type of wildcat featured in a story for once. Much as the original appearances of the cat infuriated me, and foolish as I thought poor Nolan’s plan to keep it wild was, I loved how Nolan’s relationship with the cat evolved and how they grew closer without the serval ever turning into a pet. It’s a wild animal that deserved to be respected and I really enjoyed how that remained true throughout.

Tackling issues of child carers, bipolar depression, animal control and unexpected friendships, this story was engaging and compelling from the start. The fact that it also starred a serval was just a big bonus. I really enjoyed it.


Shadow Cat is Out Now!
Visit Gillian Cross for more details.

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