Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell ★★★★

Reviewed by Mel Hearse   Meet Mel

I went into this book with no expectations, so finding myself up into the wee small hours, completely gripped by the story and unable to put it down until I finished was a pleasant surprise.
The basics? Five friends stumble upon an abandoned lakeside cottage hidden deep in the English countryside on a hot summer’s day in the eighties. Having just graduated college, they decide to take something of a gap year, moving into the cottage, living off the land and dropping out of mainstream society. All is initially well, but as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise. An unexpected stranger brings further tension and intrigue to the tale, and things hit a peak shortly thereafter.
In a parallel story, thirty years on from the lost year by the lake, Lila is given a key to the cottage by a mysterious stranger. Her life, filled with sadness after a recent tragedy, sees her deciding to take a break from life as she knows it to renovate the cottage. By the books’ climax, it becomes clear just how the previous tenant’s time at the cottage has implications for her future.
The Shadow Year draws you in slowly at first – it even came off a little too dark and depressing for the first few chapters. Within 20 pages, however, I was firmly gripped in the story and didn’t put it down from there until I had finished (I have the gravy smudges on a few pages to prove it.) The writing is skillful and taut, and Richell gives you just enough information at a time to keep you intrigued and thoroughly hooked.
Having read a lot of books in this genre over the years, it was a testament to Richell’s story telling skills that I didn’t start to suspect the final twist in the tale until very close to the page it was revealed.

RELEASED:  May 2013

My review copy of 'The Shadow Year' supplied by Hachette Australia.
For more information about this book, click  HERE.  

About the Author:

          British-Australian, Hannah currently lives in Sydney with her husband and two young children. Her debut novel, Secrets of the Tides was published in 2012, translated into fourteen languages and selected for the autumn Richard & Judy Book Club.
          Visit Hannah Richell’s website: 

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