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.