The Shadow Hour – Kate Riordan

Nineteen twenty-two. Grace has been sent to the stately and crumbling Fenix House to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps as a governess. But when she meets the house’s inhabitants, people who she had only previously heard of in stories, the cracks in her grandmother’s tale begin to show. Secrets appear to live in the house’s very walls and everybody is resolutely protecting their own.

Why has she been sent here? Why did her grandmother leave after just one summer? And as the past collides with the present, can Grace unravel these secrets and discover who her grandmother, and who she, really is?

This was such a beautiful tale told against the gorgeous back drop of 1822, an elegant historic stately home shining with grandeur and pristine lawns and gardens to hide away within.

Praise for Kate Riordan who has expertly written a beautiful tale about two time frames with alternating characters all tied together by one. The story is a vast novel spanning over a staggering nearly 600 pages and by far the largest book I have read in a long while. Riordan takes her time to introduce us to each character, setting each scene carefully as her tale wraps its words around us, as the reader settling themselves beneath our skin. The finer detail is just right, the building of scenes, situations and atmospheres are naturally done and at a steady speed to keep you gripped, engrossed and fully aware with intricate understanding about each segment of each character every step of the way.

In my opinion you can’t beat a really good ‘Upstairs / Downstairs’ plot and I always prefer the lower levels and classes finding the upper classes rather stuffy and self righteous for my liking. In this sense Riordan captured ‘The Mistress of the house’ perfectly sharing such clever writing that the intention was never to warm to such a insolent character, and after discovering the history, we felt Harriett’s pain and hatred for this woman as did she.

The Shadow Hour featured a stream of very personable characters all written with a history, all playing their parts as they were meant to staring strongly within the pages of the book, without being too bold or brash or outplaying each other. The display of kinship and relationships throughout was such an interesting read touching on personal subjects and taboo situations for years gone by.

The revelations in the last couple of chapters were very satisfying indeed. All the loose ends were neatly tied together with everything explained and closure provided. An excellent tale with a prominent start, middle and end, and a very solid traditional book which I believe will stand the test of time and be with one with the classics.

This was the first book I have read by Kate Riordan but I do have a couple of others to review. If you  are wanting to escape and run away to the country I highly recommend this book. Very similar to something written by Kate Morton, Diane Settersfield and Rachel Hore, all very inspirational authors. I would certainly recommend this beautiful piece of work.



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