Beneath the Shadows: Book summary and reviews of Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster

Beneath the Shadows

By Sara Foster

Beneath the Shadows
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2012,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

A thrilling gothic debut that evokes Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca and Arthur Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles. A young mother searches for the truth behind her husband's disappearance on modern-day Yorkshire's windswept moors.

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Foster's second page-turning tale of suspense set on the snow-covered moors has something for everyone: mystery, romance, paranormal activity and mortal danger." - Kirkus

"A haunting tale of loss and one woman's search for the truth no matter the consequences. This vividly written novel will leave you breathless and as chilled as the starkly beautiful North Yorkshire moors where this compelling story unfolds." – Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of These Things Hidden

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Randi E. (Walnut Creek, CA)
Atmospheric/spooky story
This book represents my favorite kind of mystery.....set in England, on the moors...Moody, Gothic, with some spooky/supernatural undertones. Sara Foster is a very good storyteller. The mystery slowly builds to an exciting yet believable conclusion, one that was not obvious.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Samantha H. (Golden, CO)
Enjoyable read, Keeps you guessing
Beneath the Shadows grabbed my interest from the start. It is easy to sympathize with the main character, Grace. The mystery and intrigue develops in a small community on the North Yorkshire moors. The plot is not predictable, and it is an enjoyable read. I only wish that some of the supporting characters had been fleshed out in more depth. We get to know the heroine, Grace, quite well, but the others barely make it to the surface.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Doreen L. (Windsor, CT)
The Past Casts Menacing Shadows
“They should be home.” Upon reading the opening sentence, my heart clutched with anxiety. Who hasn't experienced concern when a loved one is late arriving home? A few pages later Grace, the main character, sees a dark shape on her doorstep. She pulls open the door and stops in shock. Her infant daughter's pram is the sole object in sight. She checks the inside, and, Millie is softly sleeping. But where is Adam, Grace’s husband?

A year later Grace and Millie return to Hawthorn Cottage ostensibly to sort it out, but Grace is determined to find out what happened to Adam. The story unfolds from that point on, introducing numerous characters (almost too many to keep track). The author uses a number of eerie devices to prick our fears, for example, a grandfather clock that stops and starts of its own accord, piercing screeches in the night, a cellar door that slams shut without human intervention, and a creepy, dark attic to name a few.

The first third of the book is the strongest part of the novel and shows the author’s skill using language to evoke atmosphere: “Grace turned and trailed through the cottage, flicking at wall switches, shaking the shadows from their slumbers and driving them out.” Here’s another example, “All around her the shadows of the room languidly stretched themselves out, resettling as the darkness grew.” I especially like the author’s use of Grace’s finding old photographs and objects packed away in the attic and cellar to flashback to earlier times – “The past flew into the present.” Moreover, the description of the moors and the sense of isolation are conveyed to perfection.

In the meantime, I have a few quibbles. Although the literary devices the author uses to generate fear in the reader are successful in the beginning, there are too many throughout the story, and, I began to feel “played.” Second, many of the chapters end with a cliffhanger. It got to the point where this became a bit formulaic. However, these minor issues should not dissuade the reader to pick up book. It certainly kept me guessing what would happen next.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Rosemary K. (Saginaw, MI)
losing oneself in the shadows
From the very first, Sara Foster's Beneath the Shadows had me in its thrall. Wild, snowy moors, secrets in the basement. . .suspenseful elements abound. Unique characters are marvelously depicted. The author weaves a wondrous tale, drawing readers into the sad plight of Grace, whose husband has suddenly disappeared.

This debut novel is a page-turner, leading us along eerie trails that involve a well-settled village and the newcomer: a young mother seeking answers.

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Jane R. (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Not thrilling
This books was described as a gothic thriller. I didn't find it thrilling and the only thing gothic about it was that it takes place in a remote village. The author was obviously trying to make the story suspenseful, but for me it was flat. Only the very end had any excitement to it at all.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Karen B. (Pittsburgh, PA)
Yorkshire Mystery Extremely Satisfying Read
Felt that the opening chapter of Sara Foster's debut mystery could have been much more successful in drawing the reader into the story of the disappearance of Grace's husband. Felt she could've done so if she had included some scenes of them together before jumping 1 year into the future in the second chapter. Otherwise, I very much enjoyed her novel. Loved that the ending came as a complete surprise. I would definitely recommend this to others.

...32 more reader reviews

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Sara Foster was born and raised in the UK, she worked for a time in the HarperCollins fiction department in London, before turning her hand to freelance editing and writing in her spare time. Sara moved to Western Australia in 2004, where she lives with her husband and young daughter. Her first novel, Come Back to Me (2010), was an international bestseller. A third novel, Shallow Breath, will published in late 2012.

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