Dark Thrill reviews: The revenge of the cat lady/Woman of the year by Darcey Bell

This is the perfect thriller for introverts; rarely do we get a protagonist in a thriller who is so isolated. Lorelei is part of the observant armies of people that have retreated from society. She was always a bit awkward, even when she was the pretty girl, out of three, in her college class, but traumatic events and especially people have pushed her to give up on life. But she is not entirely alone; Lorelei has always relied on cats to give her companionship, purpose, and love. And this whole book is an ode to these best of friends. It has been framed as a story of the rivalry between two women, and yes, it is. But at its core, Woman of the Year is the story of the resurgence of an outcast and her cat. And that is part of the book that is hugely satisfying. Like Lorelei being an oddball, the book also starts strangely; her inner voice contrasts so much with what she is about to do; Lorelei is attending the Woman of the Year banquet to poison her former classmate Holly, who is the said Woman being celebrated. Lorelei doesn't intend to kill her; she only wants to make Holly suffer for what she did to her and her cat in those college years. We then get the flashback, telling us Lorelei's sad and twisted story. Laura Lee ( wait for the name change, it is a stomach-turning doozy) is attending college and falling for her professor in the behavioral psychology class. Holly was her friend and barely registers on our radar. What is clever about the book is how unstable Lorelei and her voice seem at the banquet, so we are put in the same position as her professor and her classmates when Lorelei, in the flashbacks, seems to make moves and tells something that seems way off. Especially the novel's first act is an unsettling experience; Darcey Bell throws thriller caution to the wind and introduces quirkiness in the genre, it can feel icky and put some readers off, and I was hesitant after reading the first chapters. And I had to fast forward to some later chapters because some things were hard to stomach for me and anybody who loves animals. But I am so glad I read this; the ending was fantastic, and it is the kind of book you won't forget the moment you put it away, an original and exhilarating.