The Shadow Year

The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell
(Summary taken from the back cover of the book) “Lila, a young woman who’s just suffered a terrible loss, finds a welcome distraction when she mysteriously inherits a ramshackle lake house in need of a major renovation. Scraping away layers of old walls, she unexpectedly stumbles upon cryptic notes and other clues that offer an intriguing glimpse into the lives of her home’s previous residents. Slowly, she begins to piece together the story of a group of idealistic university graduates who’d thrown off the shackles of bourgeois city life to rely only on one another and the land for one year. But as she delves deeper, it becomes clear that their experiment ended in tragedy. In untangling the house’s web of shocking secrets and lies, Lila will have to come to terms with her own loss and find a new path for herself.”
This is one of those books that you finish and immediately want to call someone to discuss it. I was so upset that I couldn’t discuss it with anyone. Ahhhhhh……at least I get to write my feelings. Then when you read it you can post comments and we can discuss it. Wow. You all know me fairly well by now, I think. I do not read summaries before I read the book. I want the surprise. You also probably know that I usually don’t sit and ponder books and try to figure out where they’re going. I don’t try and figure out who did it or how it all happened, I just read. I just read the book and enjoy it. This book, though, was different. Every time I put it down (which wasn’t very often), I kept thinking about it. How did these two stories connect? There’s got to be something to connect them, right? And then as I read more I started to get glimpses and think maybe I had it figured out. Nope. Okay, well maybe this instead? Nope. I’d go back and check to see if something earlier gave it away but I didn’t realize it when I read it……Nope. So, I just had to keep reading until I finished. And the shock at the end. Wait, what?? What? Really? I haven’t been as shocked by an ending in a long time. Who knows. Maybe you are all a lot smarter than I am and will figure it out, but I did not see that one coming. Obviously, this book is well written. It’s engaging, intriguing, creative, and addictive. Her descriptions are right on. They are well done yet not over-the-top. I felt like I was right there in that cabin with Lila. The characters are also very well done. Each of them has a distinct personality and I felt like they stayed true to themselves all the way through. There were some character traits that I did not expect. You’ll see. I felt like I related to Lila more than I did the other characters. Even though I didn’t really relate to the other characters, it didn’t matter this time. The story was so interesting that I got lost and didn’t even think about it. Lila made me nervous though. Here she had just lost something so precious, and I didn’t want her to lose the one thing she had left by running away. She definitely put herself in some situations that made me nervous, and I kind of agreed with her husband. I never liked or trusted Simon, and that dislike got even greater the more I read. There were times in the book that I liked Kat, and times that I didn’t. She was a little too infatuated for me; it clouded her judgement. She had a quick temper and tended to trust those she shouldn’t more than she trusted those she should. The dynamic of the group was interesting, to say the least. It’s an experiment that would definitely try the best of relationships. 
With all that, you’ll be surprised I liked it when you find out what is in it. Normally I don’t think I’d like or read a book that contained so much drug use. Wow. It was 1980 and these college graduates definitely believed in the 60’s mentality of free love and drug use. They definitely didn’t see those commercials with the fried egg that said “This is your brain (picture of an egg), this is your brain on drugs (picture of a fried egg).” Do you remember those? Well, I’m pretty sure these kids didn’t see them. So, lots of drug use in this book. There is also a lot of “intimacy.” As I said, they believed in free love, and when you add the drug use to the free love mentality, guess what happens? There is also quite a bit of language in this book. There are several “f” words along with some other language. And yes, after all that, I actually really liked the book. I’m still not sure about the ending, but I did like the book. I was so engrossed in it I’m pretty sure I ignored my children and laundry for a couple of days. But, you know, they understand. 
Rating: R (Language, including several “f” words, lots of “intimacy,” and lots of drug use.)
Recommendation: Adult (This book is NOT appropriate for the YA crowd, it is definitely an adult book.)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

0 thoughts on “The Shadow Year”

  1. Yes! I especially agree with this: "It's engaging, intriguing, creative, and addictive. Her descriptions are right on. They are well done yet not over-the-top. I felt like I was right there in that cabin with Lila"–as well as your assertion that this is a book for adult readers only. I liked every bit of it and would certainly recommend it to many, but much of it does require discernment. Perhaps I feel I can say this because the "adult" parts didn't strike me as gratuitous but a necessary part of the story.

  2. I agree. It set the story and the characters up and showed the reader their attitudes and behaviors, which is what led to the circumstances at the end of the book. Thanks for your comment!


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