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Book Cover Image: Beneath the Shadows by Sara FosterTitle: Beneath the Shadows
Author: Sara Foster
ISBN: 9780312643362
No. of Pages: 320
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

“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.”

Thoughts: Sara Foster’s Beneath the Shadows successfully brings back the tradition of a truly Gothic novel, yet one with a modern twist. After the unexpected and unexplained disappearance of her beloved husband, Grace is forced to pull her life back together for the sake of their daughter. Yet, how can she do so with so many unanswered questions? As she returns to the scene of her greatest heartbreak determined to find closure, she faces down her demons that one night created and finds herself asking whether the answers, which lie so close to the surface, are really all worth uncovering after all.

Let’s face it – can a Gothic novel really occur anywhere else but on the moors of Yorkshire? Beneath the Shadows is a compelling argument that the moors are deserving of their top spot among the quintessential location within the Gothic canon. Their mystery and potential for treachery, as well as their isolation, serve as an important foil for Grace’s search. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a location that fits as well Yorkshire does and achieve the same mounting tension throughout the novel.

In spite of its historical – almost otherworldly – setting, Grace is a modern-day heroine. She is one who is not going to let the story unfold around her. Heartbroken but determined, she takes an active role in uncovering the answers she so desperately seeks and has the fortitude to strike out on her own. Her passion for her daughter is endearing to readers, but it is her faith in her missing husband and her desire to find him that creates the empathy that binds the reader to her story. The remaining cast of characters serve to enhance Grace’s goodness as well as her plight.

The writing in Beneath the Shadows is absolutely exquisite. Ms. Foster excels at bringing together the unknown forces of the moors as well as Grace’s spoken and unspoken fears. The plot pacing is perfect, and it also includes the necessary character development that makes the novel’s resolution possible. The village, and its inhabitants, in which Grace resides become crystal-clear as Ms. Foster’s crisp dialogue and stunning descriptions create vivid mental images within a reader’s imagination. In that aspect, it is deliciously familiar to fans of the Bronte sisters.

Beneath the Shadows is one of those novels that has it all. The setting is perfect and exactly what one would expect for a Gothic novel, complete with the requisite moors. Yet, the reminders of modern-day life, including cell phones, media coverage, and even the existence of automobiles – all that make the world smaller – are what help contribute to the spookiness of the story more than even the backdrop. For, in this world of instant connection the mysterious disappearance of a loved one becomes more menacing specifically because of its inexplicableness and unfathomableness. Grace’s struggle for answers remains intriguing to the very end, which is as poignant as it is satisfactory. Beneath the Shadows is a perfect novel for those upcoming stormy summer nights, as it takes the reader across the ocean to the winter depths of the Yorkshire moors in all their unyielding glory.

Acknowledgments: Thank you to NetGalley and to St. Martin’s Press for my e-galley!

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