On a sultry summer’s day in 1980, five friends stumble upon an abandoned lakeside cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. For Kat and her friends, it offers an escape; a chance to drop out for a while, with lazy summer days by the lake and intimate winter evenings around the fire. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise and when an unexpected visitor appears at their door, nothing will be the same again.
Three decades later, Lila arrives at the same remote cottage. With her marriage in crisis, she finds solace in renovating the tumbledown house. Little by little she wonders about the previous inhabitants. How did they manage in such isolation? Why did they leave in such a hurry, with their belongings still strewn about? Most disturbing of all, why can t she shake the feeling that someone might be 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, Lovereading.co.uk
‘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, http://www.thehoopla.com.au
‘A captivating story of familial tragedy propagated by lies and betrayal. Richell’s elegant page-turner will have you hooked’ — Sophia Whitfield, http://www.culturestreet.com
‘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’ — Novelicious.com