Reviewed by Cesca Major
I'm celebrating emerging from review retirement with a whacking great ten out of ten for Hannah Richell's fabulous second novel 'The Shadow Year'. For those who follow me on Twitter this will come as no surprise – I've been banging on about it since I turned the last page. It is simply everything a book should be – it's a fantastic page-turner with dual story lines that impact on each other. The description is rich but doesn't slow the pace, the characters are multi-faceted, flawed and believable.
It is 1980 and a group of students find themselves escaping university on a hot, humid day and heading out to a hidden cottage by a lake. As they enjoy a magical day swimming and exploring an idea emerges, they should live for a year relying only on nature and the bare necessities. The plan develops and a month later the group find themselves moving in, fixing up the house, keeping their presence a secret and watching the changing seasons from their own little hideaway. Then the mood grows darker and the plan doesn't seem quite so idyllic…
30 years later Lila is recovering from a terrible accident. When a mysterious parcel arrives containing a large iron key, the deeds to the house and no note she sets about discovering just what the door unlocks. She finds herself in the cottage by the lake and starts a renovation project, focusing all her energies on restoring the cottage and blocking out her troubles. But it seems the house contains many secrets. A faded picture of six people on the bathroom wall, a bullet hole in the ceiling, the feeling that someone is watching. Lila starts to uncover the truth from all those years ago…
I am sure readers that enjoyed Hannah Richell's debut, the gripping 'Secrets of the Tides' will already be looking out for this book but I can imagine 'The Shadow Year' will create a whole new army of followers. Can't wait for the third one, Hannah Richell is officially one of the authors I heart the mostest!
Hannah Richell's Website