Review: The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell

Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group, May 2014
(Originally published in the united Kingdom by Orion, June 2013 and in Australia by Hachette Australia, May 2013)

Description (from the author’s website)

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.

My Review – 4 Stars

The Shadow Year is a page turner that has a slightly ominous edge throughout.  Author Hannah Richell skillfully uses descriptions of nature and characters that keep you wondering about what happened in the past and what is going to happen.
In 1980 the five friends who agree to live together at the cottage by the lake are Kat who is obsessively in love with Simon, Simon who assumes the role of leader of the group, Ben and Carla who are an inseparable, and Mac the awkward and quiet member of the group. Certain events occur and the balance of the group is precariously shifted.
Switching between the 1980s and thirty years later is seamless.  Lila is grieving and struggling to make it through her days.  She inherits the beat up cottage by the lake from an anonymous benefactor.  She decides to ‘hide’ there.  As she refurbishes the cottage, she begins to recover some semblance of her life.
These two story lines wrap up nicely.  The Shadow Year had me guessing throughout.  I wonder if anyone who has read it, at any point, predicted how it might end.

Note: The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell, is the May Book Club Selection for She Reads. You can go to the SheReads’, May Book Club Selection page, to find links to additional reviews on this book and enter their contest to receive one of five free copies of this book.

I would like to thank the She Reads Organization and the publisher, Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group for providing me with this book, free of charge, for review.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group as a member of the She Reads Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

2 thoughts on “Review: The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell”

  1. Pat, I’m glad you enjoyed this book. It sounds very “readable” to me. I like your new blog design!


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