Monday 8 July 2013

Review! The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell

On a sultry summer’s day in 1980, five friends stumble upon an abandoned lakeside cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. For Kat and her friends, it offers an escape; a chance to drop out for a while, with lazy summer days by the lake and intimate winter evenings around the fire. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise and when an unexpected visitor appears at their door, nothing will be the same again.

Three decades later, Lila arrives at the same remote cottage. With her marriage in crisis, she finds solace in renovating the tumbledown house. Little by little she wonders about the previous inhabitants. How did they manage in such isolation? Why did they leave in such a hurry, with their belongings still strewn about? Most disturbing of all, why can t she shake the feeling that someone might be watching her?

The Shadow Year is a story of secrets, tragedy, lies and betrayal. It’s a tale that explores the light and dark of human relationships and the potential the past has to not only touch our present, but also to alter our future.

Review: I was sent this book for review because it had been recommended to me, as an amazing book. To begin with I wasn’t so sure, because I found it really hard to get into. I love a dual narrative, and the fact that this book follows not only, lonely Lila, but also a group of five young people, obviously residing in the same cottage, but 3 decades apart, means that it has a really strong dual narrative. However, something about the beginning of the book really didn’t stick with me. When got about 70 pages in, things really started to get going and I was hooked!

I really enjoyed Lila’s side of the story. She had been dealing with a great deal of grief in her life, obviously slipping into a deep depression, and the cottage, which was left to her by an anonymous stranger, provided a lifeline, somewhere for her to channel her grief and energy and also get her life into line in peace and quiet.

The group of friends, I found less likeable, but their storyline was highly dramatic, and this I really enjoyed. They are a group of friends, in the middle of nowhere trying to do their own thing, you know things are going to go awry right from the word go. I struggled to like any of the characters. I thought Simon was too controlling, Kat could have been a much stronger woman, and she could have stepped up for what she believed in and challenged Simon when he tried to take things over. It is her struggle with this, however, that provides the lynchpin for the story, and so it’s a good thing that I found this frustrating in her as a character.

From the turning point of the book, the drama comes in spades, readers should be aware of this… There are arguments and revelations, cheating partners, illicit sex, hidden notes, guns, and family feuds. This is all FABULOUS! I really enjoyed the story unravelling in front of me and loose ends coming together, I found myself desperate to get hold of the book and read some more. And then the ending! WOW! It was so dramatic and shocking, right down to the last few words of the epilogue! Be warned readers, things are not as they many seem!

I think that although this book has a slightly slower start, and is a big read, you should preserved because what you will get at the end of it is a beautifully written tale, with a gorgeous setting, some really different and interesting characters, and the kind of fulfilment that can only come with a ‘five course meal’ kind of novel like this one. This is the perfect read to see you through the summer holidays, or indeed lead you into the autumn habit of curling up all cosy with a fabulous novel, such as this!

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