Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Shadow Year - Book Review

The idea is sometimes appealing--escape from all the hectic requirements of life; the need for material things and outside influences and live off the land. The idea of putting up enough food for the winter has always seemed so romantic to me. I've helped my mom put up everything from green beans to raspberry preserves so I know it's not as easy as it sounds. However, every now and then the concept of slipping away from society and responsibilities with my family (and all my books, of course) and living a quiet existence seems pretty good.

In The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell, five college friends are about to graduate and embark on their careers. Not ready to give up the camaraderie and idyllic life together, they decide to live in the abandoned cottage by a lake they discover on their last holiday weekend. Pooling together their resources, they quietly disappear from their lives to spend a year harvesting the produce from the small garden, gathering berries and nuts from the woods, fishing from the lake and catching rabbits with their snares. Relying on each other and the land, the friends live an idyllic existence by the lake and Kat finally has captured the attention of Simon. However, Kat can't resist sending a reassuring letter to her little sister. Freya soon arrives and throws off the careful balance that has existed among the friends. Mix in the hardships of winter, building tensions and secrets and there is bound to be some drama.

Some thirty years later, Lila unexpectedly inherits a mysterious cottage in the woods. Grieving the death of her baby daughter, Lila needs some distraction and restoring the dilapidated, hidden cottage. She'll come to love the place but it is clear something tragic has happened here. As Lila discovers the truth, she'll be able to mend her heart and her fractured relationship with her husband.

The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell is the She Reads Selection for the month of May. I had never heard of the book before it landed on my doorstep several weeks back. I'm not sure I would have noticed it at the book store or even given it a second glance. However, I was quickly taken in by Richell's lyrical writing and the carefully plotted novel.

The novel draws in the reader with the beauty of the setting and the strength of the characters. There is also plenty of subtle foreshadowing of eminent tragedy and mystery. While the Walden-type Utopian experiments are rarely successful, The Shadow Year throws a unique twist on the experience and shows how the characters' motivations and personalities are heightened in the confinement of their small society.

The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell is a compelling and thrilling read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Published by Grand Central Publishing in May 2014 (originally published last year) The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell is the May selection for She Reads. Read other reviews from She Reads members *here*. 

**I received a complimentary copy of The Shadow Year through She Reads is exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.**

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