Today I am on the blog tour for The Shadow Child (Published in hardback 14 April 2022 By Century/Penguin) By Rachel Hancox. A big thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated. Also to the amazing Anne for the invite, always a joy to work with, you make being a part of this community just wonderful.
The Shadow Child
Eighteen-year-old Emma has loving parents and a promising future ahead of her. So why, one morning, does she leave home without a trace? Her parents, Cath and Jim, are devastated. They have no idea why Emma left, where she is – or even whether she is still alive. A year later, Cath and Jim are still tormented by the unanswered questions Emma left behind and clinging desperately to the hope of finding her. Meanwhile, tantalisingly close to home, Emma is also struggling with her new existence – and with the trauma that shattered her life. For all of them, reconciliation seems an impossible dream. Does the way forward lie in facing up to the secrets of the past – secrets that have been hidden for years? Secrets that have the power to heal them, or to destroy their family forever …
About The Author
Rachel Hancox read Medicine and Social and Political Science at Cambridge, qualified as a doctor three months after getting married, and has juggled her family, her career and a passion for writing ever since. She worked in Paediatrics and Public Health for twenty years, writing short stories alongside NHS policy reports, and drafting novels during successive bouts of maternity leave. Rachel has five children, three dogs and a cat. She lives in Oxford with her husband and youngest children.
One morning without saying a word to her parents, 18 year old Emma leaves home, she vanishes into thin air. She had everything going for her, loving parents, a bight future, so why does she suddenly decide to leave without saying a word? It doesn’t make any sense. Beware dear reader this book is a can of worms just waiting to be ripped open and wiggle to freedom leaving a trail of dirt in their wake.
Told in three parts over the space of a year the narrative follows Cath, Jim, Lara, Nick and Emma as they all discover how the shadows from your past and the secrets you try to hide can slowly destroy or heal your life. Each character is hiding something from the other, the pressure builds as the intensity of the truth threatens to be heard. The reader is left questioning who to trust and will any of them come clean about the lies they have told. It becomes extremely frustrating at parts as you witness how close the lies become to being unravelled. You will be determined to read till the end to find out who is brave enough to open up and expose their dark secrets.
The reader follows the aftereffect of Emma’s disappearance that has left Cath and Jim heartbroken. Jim is slowly plodding along working as a photographer for the Gazette. He will still search now and then online for Emma, to no avail. He feels they should have looked harder, shouted louder and worries about what it is all doing to his wife. Cath still torments herself, asking herself over and over why did Emma leave and more importantly, where is she? She still holds out hope in finding her alive. She no longer works as a primary school teacher and doesn’t know how to fill her days. Cath often thinks back on memories when Emma was a child and how she would love to draw pictures of herself with her shadow, Rose. She blames herself for not noticing sooner that something was wrong and feels guilty every day since Emma left. Jim knows that things have been off kilter for a while and wants the old Cath back. They decided to both try and carry on and rent out a house in St. John’s Street. They hear from the agent that they have potential tenants, Lara and Nick, a married couple in their 20’s hoping to slowly step away from the busy city life and settle down. Jim tells Cath how the new tenants remind him of them back in the day. Cath wishes her and Jim were moving into the house and finds ways to ‘pop’ in on Nick and Lara. She forms a friendship with Lara and is reminded how much she misses that bond with Emma. She has a hole in her life and no idea how to fill it and so offers to help Nick and Lara look after their garden while they are at work in London. Lara is delighted, whereas Nick doesn’t approve of how close the two are growing and wishes at times that Cath would just leave them be. Jim busies himself in his work, always off somewhere to taking photos. He hates how he and Cath seem to walk on eggshells around each other since Emma left and wishes for them to be close again, to be intimate. His frustrations soon lead him down a path that will not only destroy his marriage but also threaten all hopes of ever finding Emma again. Emma in the meantime has not been that far away and is battling with her own demons. She tries to find peace and gain a better understanding of how she ended up where she is. She worries that anyone who gets close to her comes to harm and blames herself for a tragic incident that occurred before she disappeared.
A lot happens in this book, sometimes it builds slowly and others it’s in quick succession. You never know when you are going to be hit with a shocking truth that will turn everything on its head. The reader learns of how Cath and Jim met, the mysterious past that Lara is hiding and the reason why Emma left. It is fascinating to discover how these stories entwine with each other but also heartbreaking as this book covers themes of depression, adultery and baby loss. My heart bled for the trauma that Cath and Lara suffer. I grew to like these two strong women and couldn’t believe the heartache they went through. Hancox shows the reader these characters are vulnerable, struggling with their emotions and have no one to express them to. They have been carrying around these secrets for years, the weight bearing down on their shoulders. You want to desperately tell them to open up, be honest and breathe that huge sigh of relief they have been holding in for so long. It’s torture at times dear reader as you just want what’s best for the characters, some more than others as you get emotionally invested in this powerful story of loss and forgiveness. Make sure you have plenty of tissues nearby, you are going to need them.
I give The Shadow Child By Rachel Hancox a Four out of Five paw rating
The atmosphere that Hancox creates is beautifully hypnotising. From the suburban streets of Surrey, to the calm tranquility of the woods, the reader is consumed by curiosity on every page.
This book gripped me till the end, I was in tears and couldn’t put it down till I knew: Why, oh why did Emma leave? We all have our shadows dear reader, no matter how far we run or hide they will always be there. Always.
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!
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