04 June 2012

Beneath the Shadows; Sara Foster

Beneath the ShadowsBeneath the Shadows by Sara Foster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite the blurbage (and references to) Rebecca, this wasn't quite like that - although there are definite Gothic overtones!

There's something so very evocative and creepy about North Yorkshire.  I mean, Dracula is set there.  Ditto Wuthering Heights.  So definite points for setting.  Adam's mother lived there until she ran away (to have him), and after her death from cancer he moves in with his grandparents for a summer.  After university, he meets Grace and they marry... Millie follows less than a year later.  When Adam's grandparents die and leave him their cottage, he suggests they move into it to take a break from their London life.  Shortly after, Adam takes Millie out for a walk.  All Grace knows is that Millie somehow is returned to the cottage, and that Adam has disappeared.  A year later, Grace and Millie return to go through the cottage, take care of the contents, and then rent it out until the legalities are settled.

The village is tiny - nearly deserted - but there's an old schoolhouse in which Meredith and her daughter Claire live.  Claire is fine, but Meredith's perfectly polite demeanor clearly masks something very different.  Ben, the handyman/contractor Grace hires to help renovate the cottage, is also hiding something.  The winter's approach, often snowing so hard that drivers can't see the road, along with the grandfather clock that stops and restarts at 3am and the stories in Ghosts of the Moors all combine to drive Grace slightly mad.

The sense of menace is real and the setting plays a large part in that.  The mysteries of what happened to Adam,  what Ben is hiding and why Meredith is less than honestly welcoming are all eventually resolved.  To be honest, I was hoping for a more Wicker Man/Harvest Home theme and Grace's frequent "tears streaming down her face" led to the four-star review.  Make it 4.5 (if only we had that option!)

ARC provided by publisher.

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