In 1878, 21-year-old Harriet Jenner obtains the position of governess at Fenix House. Grieving a family loss, she resolves to adapt to her reduced circumstances and feels a new purposefulness. Unbeknownst to Harriet, her time there will be life-changing. Almost half a century later, Harriet’s granddaughter Grace follows in her footsteps. The once grand house is now neglected and in a state of decline. Grace soon learns that her grandmother’s version of events seem off-kilter. She finds herself wondering why Harriet left after a single summer. And why has her grandmother insisted she is meant to be there? As Grace struggles to reconcile the truth with her grandmother’s stories, dark secrets will emerge from the shadows of Fenix House.
Thank you to Penguin UK and Goodreads giveaways for providing a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
The Shadow Hour is a dualistic novel and there are alternating chapters from Harriet and Grace’s point of view. Grace’s narrative is in the first person, whereas Harriet’s is in the third person. I like this distinction as it reminds the reader that Grace’s story takes place in 1922, and Harriet’s story is from further back in 1878.
This book is perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and Jane Eyre. Early on in the novel, I was thinking about how Harriet’s story is similar to that of Jane Eyre and this is actually mentioned!
Harriet is brave, strong-willed and clever. You find yourself rooting for her character. Likewise, you also feel sympathy towards Grace as she tries to unearth the clues surrounding her past. Grace, like the reader, attempts to fit the pieces together from Harriet’s story.
One of the themes in The Shadow Hour is grief and how people cope with loss in different ways, either by retreating into the safety of the past or trying to forget. Memories will haunt them and at some point the characters will have to face hard truths.
When I had finished reading this novel, I was curious to learn about what happens to the characters after the events that transpired. I can understand why the novel ends in the way it does, though. There is a nice symmetry which connects the beginning and ending.
The Shadow Hour is an unpredictable story with great dramatic tension and interesting characters. It’s suspenseful and chilling in parts, as well as heart-breaking. This is a riveting read by Kate Riordan.
My rating: ★★★★☆