Page Count 366
Publication date Oct 4th 2018/ Publisher Amazon Publishing UK
*I was provided an eARC via Netgalley for my review of this title.
Isabel’s life seemed perfect. Successful business, beautiful house, adoring husband. And then she was dead.
For four years Jessica has never doubted that her sister Isabel’s death was an accident. But when Jessica’s young daughter seems to know long-forgotten details about her aunt’s past, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that there’s a more sinister truth behind the tragedy.
As Jessica unearths disturbing revelations about her sister, and about the people she loved and trusted most, it becomes clear Isabel’s life was less than perfect and that Jessica’s might also be at risk.
Did someone murder Isabel? Are they now after Jessica and her family? The key seems to lie in the hands of a child. Can Isabel reveal the truth from beyond the grave, or is the answer closer to home?
I requested In Her Shadow on Netgalley after thoroughly enjoying Edwards’ previous release titled ‘The Retreat‘. There’s actually a cheeky little easter egg amongst the opening scenes of In Her Shadow that links the two of them together, if you do read both be sure to keep an eye out for it. I also own ‘Follow You Home‘ but have yet to read it.
The main focus of the plot is to discover how Isabel really died. Was it an accident? A suicide? Perhaps she was murdered?
The pacing is steady to begin with, if not a little jerky. 66% into In Her Shadow I thought I’d guessed the entire ending and felt a little put-out. Thankfully I didn’t have the details entirely right and so when the story ramped up at 75% I clawed back a little of my earlier investment. I say a little because looking back I realise I never really felt any desperation to find the answers.
The third person perspective switches back and forth between Jessica in the present, another character I don’t want to spoil by revealing and dead sister Isabel in the past.
Perhaps the time passing between Isabel’s death and Jessica’s discoveries was too long, maybe it was because I found Isabel to be shallow and uninteresting, but I think it’s more the lack of emotional response in the living characters that made me lose interest. They didn’t seem to care all that much so neither did I.
‘..as she left the house she wondered why this was happening now. Isabel had died nearly five years ago. She had thought everyone was getting over it. But suddenly her dead sister was all anyone could talk about.’
I took a dislike to the majority of characters within this book. Whilst I did sympathise with our MC Jessica it turned more and more to pity as the story progressed. I found Jessica to be a weak character, she let everyone around her walk all over her for far too long, her mother, sister, partner, child.. even the school teacher. I was mentally berating her at every turn for her choices.
Jessica’s four year old daughter Olivia was just an outright brat. I admit I have zero knowledge or experience in parenting but it felt like the child had complete control of her mother. Each time the pacing started to increase I’d reach a critical part of the story only to have it shut down by Olivia’s sudden, silent refusal to answer a question. With such high stakes it seemed absurd that Jessica would give up even the slightest push for explanation and instead shower her in toys, snacks and apologies.
I think my main concern with the characters of In Her Shadow was their lack of loyalty to each other, the family are in constant contact and spend time together frequently but I didn’t feel any emotional connections between them all. The ease with which Jessica and her mother cast their ever changing suspicions on members of the family made them all more unlikable.
When adding to this an unrealistic car chase and some basic plot twists, even the question of supernatural involvement and a whodunnit wouldn’t convince me to recommend this. In Her Shadow tries to be too many different things and ends up being none.
If you haven’t read Mark Edwards before please don’t be put off entirely, just read The Retreat instead.. I promise that one’s great.