The Shadow Year

shadow year x 2

“An engrossing and clever tale’ Anita Shreve

On a hot summer’s day five friends stumble upon an abandoned cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. Isolated and run-down, it offers a retreat, somewhere they can escape from the world. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise.

Three decades later, Lila arrives at the remote cottage. Bruised from a tragic accident and with her marriage in crisis, she finds renovating the tumbledown house gives her a renewed sense of purpose. But why did the cottage’s previous inhabitants leave their belongings behind? And why can’t she shake the feeling that someone is watching her?

The Shadow Year is a story of secrets, tragedy, lies and betrayal. It’s a tale that explores the light and dark of human relationships and the potential the past has to not only touch our present, but also to alter our future.

Here’s a post I wrote about writing The Shadow Year.

Nice things people are saying about The Shadow Year:

‘An engrossing and clever tale’ — Anita Shreve, author of international bestsellers including Rescue, The Pilot’s Wife, Fortune’s Rocks

‘Hannah Richell instantly draws you into her story. Powerful, real and memorable’    — Elizabeth Noble, author of the bestselling Things I Want My Daughters to Know

‘… [I] had to fight the desire to devour it in one indulgent sitting. The past and present story lines are deftly woven and equally engrossing, while the atmosphere of unease builds and builds, and lingers way beyond the last page. Brilliant.’ — Emylia Hall, author of the bestselling The Book of Summers

‘Powerful and emotive’ — Fanny Blake, Woman & Home

‘Hannah Richell is undoubtedly skilled at creating characters that are so believable your heart aches for them’ — Good Housekeeping

‘Not only does The Shadow Year have at its heart a clever, surprising story, but it’s also beautifully written … The two stories of past and present are brilliantly interwoven, with the cottage and the lake at the centre of both, and this helps the author unleash some shocking but satisfying plot twists and secrets. This powerful, beautiful book will keep you guessing to the end. A must-read!’ — Fabulous magazine, Sun on Sunday

‘Hannah’s first novel, Secrets of the Tides, was an accomplished delight, with this she has surpassed herself … A great plot with twists and turns that really does hold its secrets to the final page. Terrific stuff.’ — Sarah Broadhurst,

‘A slow-burning drama, with several mysteries furled tightly inside one another … She’s an astute storyteller and knows exactly how to reel in readers and keep them hooked’ — The Australian

‘A tale of deceit and betrayal that will have you riveted right to the final page … Clever, enthralling and at times even menacing. Curl up and settle in for a page-turner.’ — Woman’s Day

‘Richell’s engagement with language and attention to detail stand out on the page … a carefully crafted, page-turning novel.’ — Bookseller & Publisher

‘A sublime novel that is at once moving, confronting and compelling. Exquisitely written, its impact lasts far longer than the final page. Highly recommended.’ — New Zealand Woman’s Weekly

‘Hannah Richell blends place and dysfunctional personal relationships into a riveting story of mystery and family tragedy’ — Meredith Jaffe,

‘A captivating story of familial tragedy propagated by lies and betrayal. Richell’s elegant page-turner will have you hooked’ — Sophia Whitfield,

The Shadow Year casts a spell over readers … Utterly captivating’ — WHO Weekly

‘This book is easy to devour quickly – I read it in just one night … The Shadow Year will draw you in and hold on to you until it’s done’ — Mamamia

‘An enjoyable lazy-day read’ — The Daily Telegraph

The Shadow Year shows [Richell] developing the storytelling skills that made her first book stand out from the crowd of commercial women’s fiction’ — Sydney Morning Herald

‘The ending is terrific … it’s a gallop to the finish. A Black Caviar triumph with a twist … her second novel will hit the high spots, as did her first.’ — Sun Herald / Age on Sunday

‘A beautifully crafted, dual-layered story based around an abandoned cottage in rural England’ — Adelaide Matters

‘The perfect chocolates-in-front-of-the-fire winter weekend indulgence … Fine imagery, realistic emotions and a moody atmosphere combine to create an exquisite sense of tension.’ — Adelaide Advertiser

‘Past and present are cleverly interwoven in this moving and compelling tale. Engrossing.’ Herald Sun, Melbourne

‘A page-turner with a chilling and unexpected mystery at its heart. This is a story of resolution – all strands of the plot are neatly tied, plenty of cryptic clues are scattered throughout to keep readers guessing right to the end.’            — Newtown Review of Books

‘It is simply everything a book should be – it’s a fantastic page-turner with dual story lines that impact on each other. The description is rich but doesn’t slow the pace, the characters are multi-faceted, flawed and believable. 10/10’ —

28 thoughts on “The Shadow Year

  1. Lynn says:

    Just reviewed a proof copy, what a fantastic book, kept me engrossed for 3 days, could hardly bear to put it down. I read it as soon as I woke and before I went to sleep…even better than Secrets of the Tides which I loved.

  2. Meg Crocker Miller says:

    I am so excited to get my hands on your new book; I live in the US, do you know when it will become available here? I love your recent blog entry on writing the story of The Shadow Year; something to look forward to I hope in 2013 will be reading it!

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Hi Meg, thanks for your comment – and for your excitement. It’s lovely. Secrets of the Tides is being published by Grand Central as ‘The House of Tides’ in July this year in the States. They’ve also just acquired the rights to The Shadow Year but at this stage I don’t know what their pub date will be. I’ll update my fb page etc as soon as I know. I hope this is helpful. Cheers, Hannah

  3. susan says:

    I have never written a thank you like this but I wanted you to know that I loved ” the shadow year”- what a great read. I have recommended to all I know . I miss the book and characters , now I have finished reading it! Suffering withdrawals. Will have to read your other novels. Thank you for the entertainment .

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Hi Susan,
      Thank you so much for reading The Shadow Year – and for recommending it to your friends! I really do appreciate it. It’s incredibly encouraging to have your feedback – I’ve been rather nervous about the publication of this book so I am feeling buoyed by your message. Thanks for going to the trouble of posting here. Hope you enjoy Secrets of the Tides if you read my first novel. 🙂
      All best, Hannah

  4. Beyond Terrigal says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book. I was drawn in by the way the changing seasons reflected the characters’ actions and feelings , how the enthusiasm and summer heat was later broken by the bleak winter with despair growing in the characters. Having enjoyed reading your book so much I found your other book Secrets of the Tides and have begun reading it. Once again my nights are extremely short as the attempts to put this book down always end up with a ‘just one more chapter’ before sleep 

  5. Jackie Fraser says:

    Thank you Hannah
    I loved this book and found it difficult to put down but also didn’t want it to end.
    The caracters are well drawn and the story superbly crafted.
    5 stars from me.

  6. Alison Weir says:

    The Shadow Year is one of the best novels that I have read in a long time. Multi-layered, haunting and brilliantly crafted, it is a fabulous page-turner and stayed with me after I finished it. More 9n the same vein, please! And quickly…!

    • Hannah Richell says:

      Hi Alison – that’s so great to hear. Thank you for reading the book and taking the time to find me here to comment. I’m working on the next one – fingers crossed for a smooth ride to publication. Feeling a bit nervous (but I think that comes with the territory, or so I’m learning!). All best, Hannah

  7. Jennifer Iglesias says:

    Dear Hannah,

    Thank you for such an amazing story. It’s has been a long time since I was so eager to read a book! I will buy as soon as possible The Secrets of the Tides. Is there a French translation for your books? I would love to recommend your books to my mother but she doesn’t speak English.

    Kind regards,

  8. Carmille Cameron says:

    Dear Hannah.

    I just wanted to thank you for a happy weekend reading The Shadow Year. I am left with a wonderfully warm feeling of peace. I felt so involved with all the sights, sounds and smells that you wove through the stories through to the completely satisfying ending. I usually can’t wait to start my next read, but I feel like dwelling in the memories of this book, before I start a Rosie Thomas story.

    I loved your book so much that I felt compelled to congratulate you and wish you all the best in creating your beautifully crafted stories.

    I am off to buy The Secrets of the Tides next.


  9. Helena says:

    Deah Hannah,

    I just finished The Shadow Year. I am sittning here with the feeling one gets after having turned the last page in book that completely has you chained until you are done; that feeling of what now? Thank you. I am amazed, sad and happy at the same time. I don’t remember when I was this moved and touched by book. It also sparked my own writing inspiration which has been lacking lately. Thank you for writing this book.

    Love, Helena

  10. gillian says:

    Just finished The Shadow Year, possibly one of the best books I have ever read, couldnt put it down and now I have finished it, I miss it so much, all the characters. Your writing is so gripping,you just can’t wait to read some more. Enjoyed Secret of the Tides, the reason why I chose to read The Shadow Year. Thank you, you are so talented, what a skill to keep readers so engrossed. Thank you, thank you thank you. Best wishes for your future writing, must be so exhausting for you. Gill Newton, Devon.

  11. Scott Bunch says:

    A friend gave me a copy of the book, and I love it!! It would be great to see this done on the big screen, it’s such an engaging story.

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