Beneath the Shadowsby Sara Foster
In this thrilling gothic suspense debut by Sara Foster in the tradition of Rosamund Lupton and Sophie Hannah, a young mother searches Yorkshire's windswept moors for the truth behind her husband's mysterious disappearance.
THE ANSWERS ARE HIDING BENEATH THE SHADOWS
When Grace's husband, Adam, inherits an isolated North Yorkshire/b>/i>/b>
In this thrilling gothic suspense debut by Sara Foster in the tradition of Rosamund Lupton and Sophie Hannah, a young mother searches Yorkshire's windswept moors for the truth behind her husband's mysterious disappearance.
THE ANSWERS ARE HIDING BENEATH THE SHADOWS
When Grace's husband, Adam, inherits an isolated North Yorkshire cottage, they leave the bustle of London behind to try a new life. A week later, Adam vanishes without a trace, leaving their baby daughter, Millie, in her stroller on the doorstep. The following year, Grace returns to the tiny village on the untamed heath. Everyonethe police, her parents, even her best friend and younger sisteris convinced that Adam left her. But Grace, unable to let go of her memories of their love and life together, cannot accept this explanation. She is desperate for answers, but the slumbering, deeply superstitious hamlet is unwilling to give up its secrets. As Grace hunts through forgotten corners of the cottage searching for clues, and digs deeper into the lives of the locals, strange dreams begin to haunt her. Are the villagers hiding something, or is she becoming increasingly paranoid? Only as snowfall threatens to cut her and Millie off from the rest of the world does Grace make a terrible discovery. She has been looking in the wrong place for answers all along, and she and her daughter will be in terrible danger if she cannot get them away in time.
"A haunting tale of loss and one woman's search for the truth no matter the consequences. This vividly written novel will leave you breathless and as chilled as the starkly beautiful North Yorkshire moors where this compelling story unfolds." –Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of These Things Hidden
“Australian author Sara Foster uncovers a rich vein of atmosphere in the North Yorkshire moors in her intense psychological thriller about a woman trying to rebuild her life after her husband disappears. A touch of the supernatural and family ghost tales add to the already spooky landscape that blankets Foster's debut. But Foster's dabbling in the occult doesn't detract from the realistic fears and down-to-earth problems explored in Beneath the Shadows. Foster uses the sub-genre of the quiet, non-violent English village mystery to gracefully weave in the themes of loss, grief and abandonment…. Foster skillfully uses the village's isolation and the moors where "the raw, untouched vistas had the power to stop your mind" as a metaphor for Grace's own isolation… The absorbing plot of Beneath the Shadows shows that a quiet, non-violent mystery can pack a lot of punch.” South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“From the opening paragraphs of Australian author Sara Foster's beguiling gothic debut Beneath the Shadows, I knew I was going to enjoy it…. The story is rich with references to Daphne du Maurier's classic gothic romance "Rebecca," which made me love the book even more. Foster's captivating story is steeped in secrets locked in attics and hidden in cellars, good sisters, bad sisters, a ghost, a couple of brooding handsome men and almost as many characters with mother issues as a Sophocles play.” Carole Barrowman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Sara Foster's Beneath the Shadows is a haunting tale of loss and one woman's search for the truth no matter the consequences. This vividly written novel will leave you breathless and as chilled as the starkly beautiful North Yorkshire moors where this compelling story unfolds.” Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of These Things Hidden
“Melding dark elements of Daphne du Maurier, Minette Walters and Hitchcock, Sara Foster has crafted a moody, modern Gothic for today's generation. Beneath the Shadows keeps you guessing right up until the last atmospheric page and establishes Foster as a new master of the psychological suspense genre.” Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times bestselling author of One Was a Soldier
“Though the case has long grown cold, Grace pursues every lead with a fury, unwilling to relegate Adam to the past. Often near panic, she pushes on in the face of her suspicions, nightmares and strange happenings, untangling a dark web of treachery, secrets and deceit. Foster builds on Adam’s shocking disappearance to create the creepy atmosphere of unseen threatand things that go bump in the nighta mystery set in snowbound Northern Yorkshire, where the worst thing of all is finding no answer for the loss of a loving husband.” Curledup.com
“Set in England's desolate moors, this page-turner has just the right amount of mystery.” InStyle (Australia)
“As winter snows start to cut them off from the world, Grace finds the answers lie in unsuspected places. Heart-stopping moments are ahead for her… and us.” Women's Day (Australia)
“Loss, grief, abandonment, and search for truth are dark themes woven through [Australian] author Sara Foster's latest book, Beneath the Shadows. Combining elements of mystery, psychological thriller, romance, and ghost story, [the] novel leaves readers guessing until the very end.” West Australian (Perth)
“Sara Foster slowly unravels the mystery in this highly engaging thriller… Secrets [Grace] uncovers in the cellar, not to mention the ghostly antics of the grandfather clock, further enhance this very readable novel's Gothic flavor.” Canberra Times
“Sara Foster overtly appropriates the tone, atmosphere and themes of classics from Wuthering Heights to Rebecca, delivering a modern gothic that has the charm and suspense of Susan Hill's ghost stories.” Saturday Age (Melbourne)
“If you’ve ever fantasized about leaving all the chaos of the city behind and opting for a more peaceful existence in a small town, you might think again after reading Beneath the Shadows… [The novel] is full of intrigue and wonderfully dark descriptions of ghosts that haunt the moors. It’s a perfect choice for summer holiday reading on the beachrather than in the dark of night!” Good Reading Magazine
“A mystery-suspense novel so thrilling it forces you to burn the midnight oil.” Flourish Magazine
“The opening chapter of this book doesn't just grab you. It reaches out and hooks you… Against a backdrop of lonely moors, windswept cliffs, winter snow and eerie myths, the mystery plays out. The village in which it is set is populated by characters that appear to be a mixture of The Vicar of Dibley and a gothic horror story… With spooky clocks, snowstorms, cursed chairs, family secrets, ominous portents, greasy letters written on glass, taciturn locals and a few ghosts, there's something here for everyone who enjoys a good shiver up the spine. The moors, bleak, beautiful and unforgiving, provide the perfect backdrop.” Media Culture Reviews
“A winning evocation of novels such as Wuthering Heights, The Turn of the Screw, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations… as well as the natural sights and sounds of the Yorkshire landscape… All this is combined with the literary trope of a family with too many buried secrets to produce a work that casually merges classicism and contemporary to winning effect.” abookadaytillicanstay.wordpress.com
“An intricately woven tale inspired by classic stories such as Wuthering Heights and Rebecca. The suspense and unexpected twists will leave you guessing all the way through.” chicklitclub.com
“I devoured this book in just a couple of hours yesterday afternoon… Beneath the Shadows draws together an intriguing mystery, an atmospheric and gloomy setting that steals over you as you read it and an interesting and varied cast of supporting characters to create a psychological thriller that will definitely leave you wanting more from this author! …I think this novel has a little something for most readers – a really well written mystery with whispers of the supernatural, a dark and gothic setting with a modern-day twist, characters that you can warm to and that make you really think – who knows more than they're letting on, who is not as friendly as they appear.” 1girl2manybooks.wordpress.com
“I was mesmerised by Sara's writing, and completely pulled in by the story… This is a book that is once again full of secrets and mysteries, it keeps you guessing all the way through, wondering what happened, what will happen, and why is the village being so mysterious.” thehungrybookshelf.wordpress.com
- St. Martin's Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)
Read an Excerpt
Beneath the Shadows
By Sara Foster
Minotaur BooksCopyright © 2012 Sara Foster
All right reserved.
They should be home.
The thought scratched at Grace’s mind as she peered out of a narrow upstairs window. The sun had long since been banished behind a blanket of thick grey cloud. In front of her, the wild moorland rolled away to be absorbed by the gloom of twilight.
Grace turned and trailed through the cottage, flicking at wall switches, shaking the shadows from their slumbers and driving them out. She moved as though in a trance, the surroundings still surreal to her, although it had been over a week since they had moved in. The upstairs corridor was poky, and the ceiling so low that she had spent the last few days watching Adam stooping under the beams. The staircase was steep, the wood beneath the carpet uneven, so it was better to tread on the outer edges of each step rather than stumble into the indentations of myriad footsteps gone before.
She made her careful way downstairs, through the small living room that was littered with packing boxes, and headed into the kitchen, moving again to a window, unable to stop herself from looking out across the sloping moors towards the distant road that wound in and out of sight. A few trees were silhouetted on the horizon, their brittle skeletons bent from regular lashings by the coastal winds. The view before her was utterly still.
She took a deep breath, trying to quell the worry that was winding her nerves into knots. Adam’s note had unsettled her. “Won’t be long. I have to talk to you when I get back, don’t go anywhere. A x”
Back in the lounge, Grace threw herself into an armchair, one hand brushing over the raked leather where a long-dead cat had once regularly sharpened its claws. She looked around the cottage—their cottage, though it was nearly impossible to think of it that way.
“It’s an incredible gift,” she could still hear Adam enthusing, over and over, when they had first found out his grandparents had bequeathed Hawthorn Cottage to him. “It’s like fate is giving us a bloody great shove in the back. Our own place, no mortgage, away from the rat race, a chance for Millie to start life among nature rather than believing that trees grow through cracks in the pavement. Come on, Gracie, let’s give it a go.”
At that point Grace had been overwhelmed by pads and pumps and nappies, and had somehow found herself agreeing with every point he made. Adam was right. Who wanted red-top buses flying past their London flat at all hours; noise, lights, people everywhere? This way they could escape their financial pressures for a while. She didn’t want to leave Millie while she was tiny, and go back to her marketing job, with its meager wage and demanding retail clients. It wasn’t her vocation, and to satisfy her demanding boss she often had to stay long after office hours were over.
They couldn’t avoid the fact that their priorities were changing. Adam and Grace had begun their relationship to a backdrop of fine restaurants and raucous weekends away with friends. Now, in their thirties, most people they knew had children, their social life had dwindled, and they wouldn’t be the first ones to make the move out of the city. Grace began to imagine the possibilities that the cottage in North Yorkshire would present: the chance to cook proper meals for a change, taking Millie for long country walks in the fresh air, and snuggling up to Adam in the evenings. She wouldn’t have to give up anything either—she could take the maximum maternity leave she was allowed while they gave it a try. To top it off, they’d be free of the extortionate repayments on their tiny two-bedroom flat; so instead of struggling, they might even save. And, as Adam said, if it didn’t work out, they would simply come back.
“Six months,” she’d agreed. “We’ll try it for six months, see how it goes.”
But as they packed their belongings, and the moving date drew nearer, something had begun to niggle at her. She couldn’t put her finger on what it was that woke her in the early hours, well before the baby stirred. Eventually she had dismissed it as understandable nerves at such a big change. And yet, the nagging voice refused to quiet.
Now, she picked at the torn leather on the armchair as she thought about their first few days in the cottage. The unsettling silence as she had unpacked boxes. The stillness each time she looked out the window. The black descent of night; and the relentless ticking and chiming of the grandfather clock in the hall. As she sat there, it was hard to imagine the throngs of people and traffic swirling around central London, an endlessly shifting kaleidoscope of color and movement. The last week at the cottage had felt like the longest of Grace’s life. The six months she had promised Adam now lay interminably before them.
She looked at her watch. Where the hell were they? Adam’s car was out the front, so they couldn’t have gone far. Just the thought of the two of them made her heart quicken. Since Millie had been born her emotions seemed to bubble fierce and strange beneath her skin, threatening to spill over at any moment.
Her mobile rang and she fumbled around for it among the packing debris, snatching at it before it stopped.
“Annabel,” she sighed, sitting back down.
“You could at least pretend to be pleased to hear from me,” her sister grumbled. “Or have you forgotten about me already now you’ve moved to Timbuktu?”
“Sorry, Bel, I’m getting a bit worried about Adam and Millie—they’ve been out since I got back from town. They should be back by now.”
Annabel laughed. “Grace, you’re such a worry wart. Adam’s probably chatting over a fence post somewhere. You know he has to show Millie off to everyone. Stop panicking. Now, tell me when you’re coming back—you can’t stay a country bumpkin forever. I miss you too much.”
Grace smiled at that. “You still can’t believe that I’ve moved away, can you? Come and see us, Bel. You never know, you might like it here.”
“So you’re planning on staying then?”
“Yes,” Grace said, as emphatically as she could manage. She had never felt the need to pretend to Annabel before, but she was determined to give this move a chance. In truth, she missed her sister terribly, knew the feeling was mutual, and was afraid that Annabel would exploit any opportunity she saw to encourage them to come back to London.
“Grace? Are you listening to me?”
“Sorry, what were you saying?” Grace replied, tuning back in to the voice on the other end of the line.
“I was asking you to tell me just what Yorkshire has that London doesn’t?”
“Well, fresh air, for a start. And you can move without someone knocking you over and then swearing at you.”
“Okay, okay,” Annabel acquiesced. “Well, at least I don’t have to see you and Adam wandering around with soppy grins on your faces quite so often. It can get pretty sickening after a while, you know.”
Grace ignored the jibe. “Come for a visit, Bel—we’ve got a pub!”
“Hmmm. I guess I might have to if you won’t come back. London misses you, though. I miss you.”
“You shouldn’t have helped me pack everything up then.”
“I know, I’m my own worst enemy.”
Grace smiled again distractedly as Annabel chattered away, getting up to gaze once more through the kitchen window. All was quiet. She walked slowly to the front of the cottage and glanced out into the dusky garden.
There was a dark shape on her doorstep. She couldn’t quite see it at this angle, or make out much in the shadows. She frowned, listening to Annabel reporting on her week as she headed to the front door. Once there, she twisted the key in the lock, pulled it open, and stopped in shock.
In front of her was Millies pram. She peered inside, to find her ten-week-old daughter fast asleep, her cheeks rosy and cold, her tiny chest rising and falling steadily underneath the tightly tucked woolen coverlet.
Grace ran her fingers gently over her daughter’s forehead, then glanced around and said, “Adam?”
No one answered. She waited, watching her short breaths bursting into the frosty night air. She called a little louder, “Adam, where are you?”
Silence. Then she heard a small voice saying. “Grace? Grace?”
She looked down absently at the phone in her hand. She lifted it up to hear Annabel’s voice, alarmed. “Grace, what’s going on?”
“I just found Millie asleep in her pram on the front doorstep,” Grace said, her confusion growing with every word.
“So they’re back then. See, I told you it would be fine.”
Grace stared out into the deepening darkness. “I’m not sure, Annabel. It’s only Millie here. There’s no sign of Adam.”
“He must be caught up with something—he’ll be there in a second, I’m sure,” Annabel reassured her.
But he wasn’t.
Copyright © 2011 by Sara Foster
Excerpted from Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster Copyright © 2012 by Sara Foster. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Sara Foster is the international bestselling author of Beneath the Shadows. Born and raised in the UK, she worked for a time in the HarperCollins fiction department in London, before turning her hand to freelance editing and writing in her spare time. Sara moved to Western Australia in 2004, where she lives with her husband and young daughter.
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Call me crazy, but I am all sorts into moors right now. I’m reading another book, inspired by Jane Eyre and I decided to pick up another book that had been sitting on my ereader, just begging to be read. I won an e-copy of this through a contest. So totally excited! Sara Fosters debut Beneath the Shadows is a contemporary gothic novel that surprised me quite a bit. I was under the impression that gothic novels were only historical. Boy, was I wrong! In the beginning, I was hooked. It only took about 5 pages before I literally could NOT put the book down and ended up reading it in a nearly marathon, nonstop session. The character of Grace is clear. You see her navigate the cautious path of an abandoned woman trying to regain a sense of self as well as carve out a life of her own for her child’s sake. I don’t envy her, she almost seems to calm, until you see her shaken. From the beginning, I kept thinking about motives and who could have been responsible for what. Yes, I thought foul play from the beginning, I really enjoyed how real all of the characters seemed, despite some of the more fantastical elements the spooky environment would lend to them. I’ve never been to England, but I picture the countryside being spooky and having fantastical elements that would prompt spooky nights and probably bad dreams. From the middle of the book, I was thinking there would be a link to another character, but I was wrong. Which I LOVED! So rare is it that I can read a book and be surprised, that I love when it happens and want to read more and more from the author. Sara Foster gives the reader a great story, coupled with a really fantastic cast of unforgettable characters. People who read Beneath the Shadows will be drawn in and really excited to see what happens next, even if they aren’t necessarily gothic fans. This is a gothic novel that reads contemporary. While I wouldn’t call it a beach read (only because you won’t get spooked), I would say this is a perfect ‘I want to stay up all night’ book. Because you WILL stay up all night, drawn into the story and the characters and even the ghosts in this book. Yes, there are ghosts…what ‘gothic’ novel would be without ghosts? I cannot say enough about how fantastic I found this book to be and you can now go get it—it’s been out for just over a week. So rather than keep you here, I would suggest you go buy it now. Special thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for making this possible. I was provided an egalley copy as part of winning a contest. Author Sara Foster has a website you can go and look around
I read a review of this book in the Sunday paper. As I was leaving for vacation, I thought I would take this along. This turned out to be an excellent choice. I was hooked from the moment I began to read and spent two very relaxed days enjoying this my adventure into the moors.
This book had a wonderful setting and a plot with loads of potential for a thrilling edge of your seat drama, but it was anticlimactic. It was entertaining and I kept waiting for some big revelation or twist, but it never came.
I was disappointed in this book- I found it over long and in places boring
Loved this book which I bought by accident. Can't wait for more from this author.
Steady suspense from beginning to end! I am a fan of gothic horror/suspense, so choosing this novel was a no brainer. After reading a few YA novels in a row (but really really good ones!), I was in need of this read. It wasn't as gothic as I would have liked. It wasn't as paranormal as I was expecting. But it was as suspenseful and haunting as it promised. I was so hooked that I am surprised I didn't read this through the night. What I really loved about this novel was that the characters were intricately developed. I could picture each one, and felt like I knew them intimately. Even Adam, Grace's missing husband, is so explored that he became real to me. And the plot? Well... how can I describe it.... It was like putting together a meal in a crock pot. It smells more delicious every hour that passes. The novel's pace felt very mellow, but the author was fantastic at keeping me on the edge of my seat the whole time. The suspense was steady from beginning to end, never dissipating completely; always something happening to keep you intrigued to the very end. *I received a eBook copy of this book for free to review from the author/publisher via NetGalley for review; this in no way influenced my review, all opinions are 100% honest and my own.*
I think I have a new favorite genre. I was kept guessing until the end. I would have enjoyed more secrets or glimpses into the past, but still a really awesome read. I too had a hard time putting the book down and finished it in about a day. This is along the same lines as "Gone Girl" which I enjoyed, but this one blew that one out of the water.
If you’re as much of a fan of gothic horror as I am, then the synopsis of Beneath The Shadows probably intrigues you more than you’d like to admit. It was the synopsis that first drew me in for this story, but it definitely didn’t dissapoint. It’s a bit less gothic than I would’ve liked, but it does its best to be a gothic horror with a modern twist, and it succeeds in that department. The only problem? To me, it read more like women’s fiction meets mystery. Or even a cozy mystery of sorts. There were creepy, ghostly elements, but they were either quickly dismissed or offered little to nothing to the story. This could’ve been handled differently, better even, by living up to its genre and giving the reader true gothic horror. Grace and Adam and their little daughter Millie return back to the place where Adam grew up in North Yorkshire. They move into a cottage left to them by Adam’s parents. Soon after their arrival in town, Adam takes Millie for a walk. Hours later, Grace finds Millie’s baby carriage at her doorstep, but no sign of Adam. As the police arrive and start to investigate, there’s no trace of Adam. Some people start to believe he just up and left them, but Grace refuses to believe that. Something bad happened to her husband, because he would never leave Millie out in the cold, or leave both of them behind. But the question remains: what? And who’s responsible? A year later, Grace returns back to the cottage. But contradictory to the homey, comfortable feel she had in it at first, now it makes shivers run down her spine. The village is tiny, claustrophobically so, and we’re introduced to only a handful of the town’s characters. Meredith is Grace’s nextdoor neighbour, although they live a while apart, and she lives in one of the largest houses in town. Although Meredith is friendly enough, there’s something sinister about the woman Grace can’t quite place. Almost accidently, Grace ends up hiring a handyman to help fix the cottage, Ben. He’s nice enough, but he too seems to be hiding a dark secret. With everyone enveloped in their own secrets, and her husband still missing, Grace has trouble deciding who she can trust…if anyone. Beneath The Shadows is wrapped up in suspense like a butterfly in a cocoon. Suspense drips from the pages, starting on page one, and continuing until after the end. The characters are superb. Grace is an intriguing protagonist. She isn’t particularly brave or intelligent, but she believes firmly in that her husband wouldn’t just walk out on her, regardless of what others say, and she fiercely wants to protect her daughter Millie. She’s stronger than she appears at first sight, and braver than I gave her credit for as well. The side characters make interesting additions to this story. Grace’s sister Annabel is fun, Ben is nice, and some of the villagers are creepy or strange. I liked the narrative. Some otehr reviewers mentioned they weren’t fond of it, but I quite enjoyed it. Another pet peeve of mine was the constant referals to the novel Rebecca. I’ve read Rebecca, and loved it, and trust me, Beneath The Shadows is nothing like Rebecca. It’s a good, enjoyable read as it is, but it comes nowhere near that classic. All in all, Beneath The Shadows is a great book for around Halloween if you’re not in a mood to get too scared, but you do want some mystery, or during summer when you want to spend a lazy afternoon reading.
very good read, enjoyed
The plot kept me guessing, and the atmosphere was spooky. I think my only criticism would be that some of the characters were not well developed.