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The Shadow Hour

The Shadow Hour

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Title:The Shadow Hour
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The Shadow Hour by Kate Riordan



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The year is 1922 and Grace has been hired to be a little boy's governess in the crumbling Fenix House. She is following in her grandmother's footsteps who was governess there years ago. Grace has heard stories since she was little about the house, but she realized when she arrives at Fenix House that her grandmother's stories perhaps not are all true. Why did her grandmother that she should work at the house and what really happened all the years ago when her grandmother worked a summer at Fenix House?

I read The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan last year and liked the book and I knew that I wanted to read this one when I saw that this one also had to a story about two women in different eras, one in 1878 and one in 1922. In 1878, we meet Harriet who has lost her father and has to work as a governess since she because her father's business crashed. Around 40 years later her granddaughter Grace also takes the job as a governess. Both women have what her grandmother calls “glimmers”; vague visions of the future. Grace realized quite soon that everything her grandmother told her is not entirely true. For instance, the room she gets is not the one that her grandmother described for her, but it's the room that every governess has slept in. And, that is just a little thing, the more she learns the more she realizes that her grandmother has told her quite a lot of embellished stories while the truth seems to be that the summer all those years ago is a much darker story.

There was a moment around 60-70% into the book when I felt a bit frustrated with the fact that there were 200 pages left of the book. I did enjoy the story, but I felt that a 500 pages book need to have a story that keeps the interest up all the time and right at that moment I felt that too much of the time was spent on less interesting events and I wanted to know what really happened in 1878. Fortunately, the story picked up the pace and I was rewarded with a really good ending.

I enjoyed most of the book, I did, however, feel that the "romance" in 1878 was a bit predictable. But Harriet's past with the wife in the house made the story really good. The book was a bit darker that I expected. I thought it would just be a granddaughter discovering that her grandmother had a different past than she had been told since she was little. Which, in a way is true, but still the story turned out different from what had I expected, which I liked.

I liked both storylines. Sometimes a storyline is weaker than the other, but in this book both are interesting to read. I also think that this book is better than The Girl in the Photograph. The story is more interesting and I loved they way Riordan decided to end the book.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through Netgalley for an honest review!

Read this review and others on A Bookaholic Swede ( )
  MaraBlaise | May 19, 2019 |
Kate Riordan's first novel, "The Girl in the Photograph", was one of the most atmospheric reads of last year. It contained everything we have come to associate worth the good, old British Gothic Fiction. An old mansion, dual time narration, a governess that finds herself in front of dark family secrets and a touch of the Creepy and, possibly, the Paranormal. In "The Shadow Hour", Riordan repeats herself and this is more than obvious. However, there is absolutely no Gothic element, unless we count the same old "governess holding a candlestick and wandering in a dark corridor after hearing a strange noise" as Gothic. Yes, not! What I found was a predictable plot, with too many coincidences and resolutions that were too "safe" to satisfy me as a reader.

The narration is divided between two governesses, Grace and Harriet, her grandmother. Harriet has her own agenda and sends Grace to Fenix house that sealed her own future years ago. Harriet is equipped with a moderately interesting story line, unlike Grace who is a walking doormat with a snooze fest for a story. To tell you the truth, I'd far prefer it if the three young ones (Helen, Victoria and Lucas) were the narrators. They were so much more interesting than the two women whose voice is meek, repetitive and, in my opinion, frightfully boring at most times. There is no spirit in them, they only swoon over their employers, blushing and practically shoving themselves on them. It was a bit pathetic, actually....

What rescues the novel from the lowest of the low is Riordan's ability to create anticipation and atmosphere through well-written descriptions. The interactions, however, left a lot to be desired. Naturally, the language of the 1880s and the 1920s was stylized and formal, but this doesn't mean that it has to be flat and melodramatic. The story was so predictable and so loaded with clichés that I found my mind wandering to a millions other things as I was reading. When you are in the Tube and you catch yourself l gazing absent mindedly out of the window into the fast-moving darkness, there is definitely something wrong with the book in your hands.

Perhaps, readers who have a bit more tolerance with family dramas and romance may enjoy this. I'm not an admirer or these tropes. I want some form of meaning in the books I read, I want female characters that don't define themselves by blushing for a man. I want well-written dialogue and when a book is advertised as "Gothic", I want it to be...well, Gothic. Romance and forced tear-jerkers are not good for my headless (apparently) soul. I didn't grant one star out of respect for Riordan's first novel, but I admit I will think twice before I choose another work of hers. And, frankly, the clichéd doomed love affair between a governess and the "master of the house" has to seize. There can only be one "Jane Eyre", there can only be one Charlotte Bronte…

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
"An enjoying atmospheric historical fiction to curl up with. "
read more: http://likeiamfeasting.blogspot.gr/2016/10/shadow-hour-kate-riordan.html ( )
  mongoosenamedt | Oct 6, 2016 |
Grace Fairford has grown up listening to her grandmother's stories of her time as governess at Fenix House, a remote house near to Cheltenham. When a position is advertised for a governess/nurse there, Grace is encouraged to apply. Her grandmother, Harriet Jenner, feels she has unfinished business there which can be put to bed by her granddaughter.

The story is told from both points of view, Harriet's in the third person in 1878 and Grace's in the first in 1922. I must admit that at the beginning and for probably a good part of the first half of the book, I found myself having to reread bits because I wasn't quite taking it all in and the two stories were very similar with a lot of the same names popping up. After a while though, I became absorbed in the two women's stories.

It was really good for plot development to have Grace meeting with people from Harriet's time and as a reader I found that really interesting (despite my earlier comments about it being confusing). A bit of a slow burner but one which I enjoyed a lot. Sometimes I wondered where it was all going but each small detail tied into the plot perfectly. ( )
  nicx27 | Jun 20, 2016 |
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"Harriet Jenner is just twenty-one when she walks through the gates of Fenix House. Reeling from a personal tragedy, she doesn't expect her new life as a governess to be easy. But she certainly does not foresee the spell Fenix House will cast. Almost fifty years later, Harriet's granddaughter Grace follows in her footsteps. For Grace, raised on Harriet's spellbinding stories, Fenix House is a fairy tale; a magical place suspended in time. But the now-faded grandeur of the mansion soon begins to reveal the holes in Harriet's story and Grace finds herself in a place of secrets and shadows. For Fenix House hides truths about her family, and everything that she once knew is about to change." -- Title display.… (more)

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