Dual time lines carry the story in The Shadow Year, from the 1980s to the present.

In the 1980s, we watch a group of post-graduate students try an experimental living arrangement in an old abandoned cottage in the Peaks District, outside of London. Kat, Mac, Ben, and Carla each have their own issues, but are willing to follow along for a while. Simon takes the leadership role, but will his quest for power ruin their efforts? As tensions, hunger, and power struggles take over, we see how this “Walden” experiment unravels. Especially after Kat’s sister Freya joins the group.

Meanwhile, in the present day, Lila is suffering the grief following the loss of her infant. She has memory issues, and as she sleeps, her dreams take her into the moments before her fall down the staircase. The fall that killed her daughter.

When Lila anonymously inherits an old cabin in the Peaks District, she is drawn into sorting through clues left behind. Will she figure out what happened thirty years before? Can the lives lived here before help her deal with her loss, or will they exacerbate her distress? And what, if anything, connects her to this place? What secrets are hidden here? Finally, what really happened to her that day on the stairs?

I was stunned by how events unfolded and what hidden connections were revealed. I had guessed some of the secrets, but the final reveal was one I didn’t see coming. 5 stars.


  1. I read this one last year or maybe the year before. I do remember liking it so much at the time, but details have kind of slipped away. I hate it when that happens. I ought to see if it’s available on audio for another read/listen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have noticed that about my reading these days, Kay…details slipping away. And then one will come to me, and I won’t know what book it’s from! Sometimes rereading a review will jog something loose. The downside of reading more, I guess. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I found this book in one of my piles the other day, and wondered if it was any good – glad to hear it is; it sounds right up my street. It won’t be sitting in a pile for much longer!


    • Thanks, Cleo, and wow! What an ending! I knew, of course, that there would be a connection between the characters in the past and the present, but the author did a good job of keeping those connections secret, didn’t she?


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