Firstly I must say a huge thanks to Louise and her publishers Transworld for providing me with a copy of her new book to review.
This hasn't influenced my review which is honest and unbiased.
In Her Shadow by Louise Douglas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
From the publishers blurb ...
Hannah Brown has spent her whole adult life trying to pretend that Ellen Brecht almost never existed. That Ellen Brecht didn't die in a terrible accident. And, most importantly, that Hannah isn't to blame.
When the Brecht family arrive in the sleepy Cornish village of Trethene, eight year old Hannah Brown is delighted. The Brechts are glamorous, exotic and exciting - especially the charismatic Mr Brecht, and his invalid wife. Hannah quickly strikes up an intense friendship with their young daughter, Ellen, who is wild and daring. For a while, life is perfect. Hannah is accepted into the enchanted world of the Brecht family, and is never happier than when she, her adopted brother Jago and Ellen escape to explore the glorious coastline of Cornwall.
But, one hot sultry summer when the girls are eighteen, their idyllic world is shattered by obsession, betrayal - and death..
Another very engrossing read from Louise Douglas - who definitely features highly in my top ten favourite authors as she is so consistent.
This is a subtle and slightly sinister psychological drama written in a dual time frame of present day events and reminiscences of the narrators past.
Told in first person by Hannah who is in her 30s and working in a museum, in her past lies a mental breakdown and a few secrets. She is left shaken and disturbed by suddenly catching glimpses of a friend from her childhood .. who died years before. This sets her off down memory road remembering her own upbringing, with her adopted brother Jago and her best friend Ellen, from a bohemian and musical ubringing - so vibrant and dramatic that Hannah spends her teenage years drawn to her like a moth to a flame, devotedly fond and protective of her friend yet very much "in her shadow".
Gradually past events are brought to life through Hannahs memories although it's told at quite a gentle pace, and is a subtle story where the reader is kept guessing.
In each chapter we are given a little more information about past happenings and left wanting to find out more about How Ellen died, why Hannah is estranged from Jago and what part if any did past events play in Hannahs past mental health problems.
We wonder as does she, whether Hannah is heading for a breakdown again, is she seeing things? perhaps the girl she is seeing is a ghost. When everything is finally revealed it leads to a satisfying and quite unexpected conclusion.
Beautifully written, tense and poignant, highly recommended to anyone who enjoyed her previous novels The Secrets Between Us and who enjoys books like Ninepins and authors like Jojo Moyes
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