The Shadow Year: A Review

9781455554331_p0_v1_s600 I finished The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell while I was in the throes of grading exams.  A good story is the only way I know to soothe the insanity of May, or Mayhem as we now know it in our house.  It fascinates me every year how many activities can be stuffed into 31 days.

I won’t lie- I love a good redemption story, and I didn’t think I was getting one with this particular novel.  The ladies at SheReads.org chose this novel for the May selection, and once again I was enchanted by the story and surprised at the conclusion.  Below is the Goodreads summary:

from Goodreads:

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

It is all those things.  There is mystery, there is betrayal, there are lies, and there are secrets.  I should know by now that where there are secrets and lies there is the potential for great redemption.  And there is redemption.  But it isn’t the kind of redemption that is wrapped up neatly with a happily-ever-after.  Richell didn’t disappoint with The Shadow Year.  I loved the easy pace of the story and the natural character development of each of the women.   While the development of the characters was natural, the characters themselves are not simple.  Both Lila and Kat are complicated women and the situations they find themselves in are also complicated.

Novels like The Shadow Year can be difficult to conclude.  Pacing is difficult, believability is touchy, and surprise endings are hard to pull off with astute readers.  Richell got it all right.

The Shadow Year is a thumbs up for summer reading.

And speaking of summer reading.  I’ll be posting my summer reading recommendations on Monday.  It’s a long list complete with categories this year!

Until then, grab  and escape with Lila and Kat.

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