Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Shadowing by Rhiannon Ward

Happy Wednesday! Today I'm a stop on the Compulsive Readers tour for Rhiannon Ward's latest, The Shadowing

Hester was raised in a a traditional Quaker family. So when her sister, Mercy, eloped with their brothers' tutor it was a scandal, to say the least. 

In the aftermath, no one was to speak Mercy's name. 

But one morning, Hester wakes to find Mercy's spirit in her room. Later that morning they receive the news: Mercy has died in a workhouse in Southwell. And Hester is sent to find out more. 

With spirits shadowing her, Hester begins to investigate Mercy's death. What she finds is the story of a pale lady who steals babies. But the truth is even worse. And someone will stop at nothing to make sure that truth is never revealed. 

Rhiannon Ward is the gothic pseudonym for crime author Sarah Ward! And this, her second historical gothic novel, is exceptional!

Hester was raised in a mostly well-to-do traditional Quaker family. Her father is strict but after having suffered a stroke, his business isn't doing as well as it once did. 

Hester has always experienced what she calls Shadowing. In other words, spirits visit her. But it's not something her father is willing to entertain, and so she not only keeps it to herself but also attempts to banish said spirits as soon as they arrive. Including that of her sister. 

The day the letter arrives, her father suffers a second stroke and Hester is tasked (by her mother) with traveling to Nottinghamshire to find out more about Mercy's death. For someone who has been sheltered for so long, it's a bit of an adventure even with the tragic reason behind it. 

Little is known about Mercy's fate. What happened to her husband, first and foremost? Why was she sent to a workhouse? How did she die? And as Hester learns more, namely that her sister was pregnant, the answers seem to bring about even more questions. 

As with the best gothic novels, The Shadowing is absolutely brimming with atmosphere! A sense of creeping dread that builds as the story progresses—and is even tempered some in the beginning by Hester's newfound freedom! It hangs over the story, nonetheless, much the same way as the grime that Hester encounters on her journey. 

I really enjoyed this one! It's a perfect read for fall and an excellent addition to any gothic fan's TBR! 

The Shadowing is out now from Trapeze in the UK. 

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