I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster
Published by Minotaur Books on June 5th 2012
Genres: Gothic, Mystery
In this thrilling gothic suspense debut by Sara Foster in the tradition of Rosamund Lupton and Sophie Hannah, a young mother searches Yorkshire's windswept moors for the truth behind her husband's mysterious disappearance.
THE ANSWERS ARE HIDING BENEATH THE SHADOWS
When Grace’s husband, Adam, inherits an isolated North Yorkshire cottage, they leave the bustle of London behind to try a new life. A week later, Adam vanishes without a trace, leaving their baby daughter, Millie, in her stroller on the doorstep. The following year, Grace returns to the tiny village on the untamed heath. Everyone—the police, her parents, even her best friend and younger sister—is convinced that Adam left her. But Grace, unable to let go of her memories of their love and life together, cannot accept this explanation. She is desperate for answers, but the slumbering, deeply superstitious hamlet is unwilling to give up its secrets. As Grace hunts through forgotten corners of the cottage searching for clues, and digs deeper into the lives of the locals, strange dreams begin to haunt her. Are the villagers hiding something, or is she becoming increasingly paranoid? Only as snowfall threatens to cut her and Millie off from the rest of the world does Grace make a terrible discovery. She has been looking in the wrong place for answers all along, and she and her daughter will be in terrible danger if she cannot get them away in time.
‘There was something beautiful about this place, she thought – in daylight, the raw, untouched vista had the power to stop your mind for a moment. Here, you didn’t have to look up to see the sky, it came right down and met you, ever present beyond the ceaseless shifting of color, clouds, and light.’
I was intrigued by the gothic feel to the summary and loved the writing itself…‘The answers are hiding beneath the shadows.’ I was sold; however, despite the fact that the idea and concept was there it ended up falling flat.
The main character, Grace, was hard to gauge emotionally and was very hard to like and understand. This is a woman who lost her husband, Adam, a year prior and has just now decided that she needs to go back to their cottage to look for clues regarding his disappearance, because it simply doesn’t make sense that he would up and vanish without a word. The way she acted the majority of the time was that she had moved on it and the loss of her husband wasn’t impacting her day to day life as much anymore. I took this to mean that after a year she’s been able to work her way through all the emotions and has come out on top, which is understandable; however, just as soon as someone talks about Adam or some new clue pops up regarding him she immediately goes into meltdown mode so fast I’m surprised she didn’t give herself whiplash.
A lot of other things didn’t add up like how she felt about their cottage and the village itself. She came back to the cottage in order to clean it out and potentially sell it so she could have enough money for her to provide for her 15 month old child. As the novel progresses there isn’t an explanation regarding her change of mind but all of a sudden she starts talking about the cottage/village with a whole new attitude as if she never intended on leaving in the first place. And then there was the obligatory new male in her life, Ben, who ends up offering his assistance in fixing up her cottage to sell it. It’s one thing in a story for the main character to fall for someone or trust them so completely after only a short period of time, but when she’s leaving her child with him as she runs off to go track down some clue about the missing husband? Yeah, I’ve got a problem there. There were several other details that had me cringing but I won’t detail them all.
The mystery itself lacked a much needed suspense… halfway through I found myself wondering when something was going to happen since there didn’t seem to be any build-up that hinted that it was actually leading up to something big. Plus there were the little ‘paranormal’ tidbits like the mysterious clock that stops at 3am, the doors that shut by themselves, the fact that the main character is reading Rebecca throughout the whole story, and the constant ghost stories surrounding the area… with the way the story concluded I think that all these details hinted at more of a mysterious solution to said mystery when in fact it was a simple straight forward solution. I think it would have been much better if it was clear from the start without the failed attempts to make it a creepy, gothic tale