Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beneath the Shadows Tells Haunting Story Set on English Moors

Abandoned, the baby carriage sat on the doorstep, just out of the wind that whipped across the moors.

This is the image that haunts Grace Lockwood in the year following her husband Adam's disappearance. One afternoon as she was out shopping, Adam vanished into thin air, their weeks-old daughter Millie left at their front door. The couple had only just moved from London to the countryside of North Yorkshire, to a cottage Adam inherited from his maternal grandparents.

One year later, Grace returns to the village of Roseby and to the scene of her heartbreak in a determined effort to discover the truth about that day. Under the guise of clearing out the house and preserving family heirlooms for her daughter, Grace delves into the history of her husband's family and the sparsely populated area in which they lived. She discovers a land steeped in tradition and teeming with ghosts from the past.

Sara Foster's Beneath the Shadows, previously published in Australia and the U.K. but a new release in the U.S., is a breathtaking look at the wild moors that comprise the English countryside. The ghosts of the moors factor heartily into the novel, creating a spooky setting for the novel's events. I adored everything about this novel -- the characters, the unsettling mood Foster creates, the chilling landscape she paints, as well as the carefully drafted plot.

Foster peoples her novel with characters as ominous as the setting in which they live. Meredith, the kind but intimidating neighbor, is oddly kind to Grace, leaving her wondering what lies behind such uncharacteristic kindness. Ben, a handsome Australian house sitting for another neighbor, begins renovations on the cottage, but refuses to discuss him past. And a third neighbor keeps to himself, choosing to surround himself with birds rather than humans. Providing a stark contrast to these mysterious characters is Grace's vivacious sister Annabel, who whips into town several times to help her sister.

The mysteries in the village, with Adam's disappearance, and even within the cottage itself, drive the plot to a  crashing crescendo. No one is left unscathed as all is at last revealed in an exciting resolution.

A visit to Random House's Australian website for the book will reveal all sorts of goodies, some of which shouldn't be viewed until after you read the book. For example, Foster wrote a bonus chapter for the book which can be read here. A copy of the (fictional) article that journalist Annabel wrote about the moor ghosts can be found here. The one extra you can peek at before you read is this illustration of the inside of the cottage.

Sara Foster is the author of one previous novel, Come Back to Me, which hasn't yet been released in the U.S. (but via a Twitter conversation, she assures me it's in the works!). A new novel, Shallow Breath, will be released in December 2012. You can follow her on Twitter, add her on Facebook, or read her blog to keep up with the latest news from this author.

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