Saturday, June 2, 2012

Review: Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster

Author: Sara Foster
Publisher-Format: St Martin's Minotaur Books, e-galley,  311 pages
Publication date:  June 5, 2012
Subject: search for missing husband
Setting: Yorkshire
Genre: Thriller, gothic suspense
Source: Net Galley

Australian Sara Foster's debut novel is a knockout! Set on the wind-swept moors of Yorkshire, the ambiance is one of modern day juxtaposed with ancient ghosts, legends, family feuds, and long-buried secrets. Her main character, a young mother named Grace has returned to her husband Adam's  family cottage where they were living at the time of his disappearance almost a year ago.  She is determined to find him, or else find out what really happened to Adam. Did he run away, abandoning Grace and his adored daughter Millie? Did he meet with foul play?  Is he alive somewhere?  If not, where is his body?  Grace is ambivalent about staying in the cottage and begins the onerous task of cleaning it out and packing up, although she has no idea where she'll go. In the meantime, she must trust a local handyman, and deal with extraordinary occurences.

Secrets seem to abound in this sleepy village, and no one there seems willing to help Grace pursue her quest for answers.  She searches the cottage's hidden nooks including the dark mysterious basement and the attic, and then begins asking questions about the locals and their relationship to her husband's family.  When her sister and another old friend come to stay with her over the holidays, and a snowfall cuts them off from the outside world, her strange dreams and ghostly encounters increase, driving the story toward a inexorable conclusion and putting her and her daughter in deep danger.

Foster draws her characters well, letting us see just enough motivation and history to make all of them suspects, but she also keeps us asking "was there a crime?"  She paints the setting in broad colors, invoking strong winds, and deep contrasts of light and dark.  Lastly, she gives us a plot that keeps us turning pages.  I began this late one night, and found it almost impossible to put it down to go to bed. It's a stunner, and I look forward to more from this very talented author.

Many thanks to St. Martin's Minotaur publishers for making the review copy available.


  1. Ooh, this sounds really great! I don't generally read contemporary mysteries, though I really love historical ones. I also like ones that have the same detective in multiple stories so that I can see the character development. Is this the first in a series?

    1. Aarti...I haven't heard anything yet about a series. It didn't seem to me to leave enough open ended areas to explore to make a follow-on viable. But Foster certainly writes well enough that any book she comes out with will be one I'd want to take a look at.


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