Beneath the Shadows: A Novel

Beneath the Shadows: A Novel

by Sara Foster



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312643362
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/05/2012
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

Beneath the Shadows

By Sara Foster

Minotaur Books

Copyright © 2012 Sara Foster
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312643362

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.

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Beneath the Shadows 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
NicAwesomeOle More than 1 year ago
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
LSirles More than 1 year ago
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.
Beamis12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Richly atmospheric, gothic undertones, the setting of the desolation of Yorkshire moors all set the tone for this mystery by Foster. When I first started reading it I didn't know if I was reading a ghost story or a regular mystery that needed solving. There are plenty of ghosts and haunting mentioned for sure and really either of the scenarios would have played out and been very believable. Secrets from the past, the slow unveiling of clues, and very interesting and well rounded characters kept me reading late into the night. And let me tell you reading this at night when the house was so quiet really ratcheted up the creepiness factor. Looking forward to seeing what this author writes next.
tututhefirst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Australian Sara Foster's debut novel is a knockout! Set on the wind-swept moors of Yorkshire, the ambiance is one of modern day juxtaposed with ancient ghosts, legends, family feuds, and long-buried secrets. Her main character, a young mother named Grace has returned to her husband Adam's  family cottage where they were living at the time of his disappearance almost a year ago.  She is determined to find him, or else find out what really happened to Adam. Did he run away, abandoning Grace and his adored daughter Millie? Did he meet with foul play?  Is he alive somewhere?  If not, where is his body?  Grace is ambivalent about staying in the cottage and begins the onerous task of cleaning it out and packing up, although she has no idea where she'll go. In the meantime, she must trust a local handyman, and deal with extraordinary occurences.Secrets seem to abound in this sleepy village, and no one there seems willing to help Grace pursue her quest for answers.  She searches the cottage's hidden nooks including the dark mysterious basement and the attic, and then begins asking questions about the locals and their relationship to her husband's family.  When her sister and another old friend come to stay with her over the holidays, and a snowfall cuts them off from the outside world, her strange dreams and ghostly encounters increase, driving the story toward a inexorable conclusion and putting her and her daughter in deep danger.Foster draws her characters well, letting us see just enough motivation and history to make all of them suspects, but she also keeps us asking "was there a crime?"  She paints the setting in broad colors, invoking strong winds, and deep contrasts of light and dark.  Lastly, she gives us a plot that keeps us turning pages.  I began this late one night, and found it almost impossible to put it down to go to bed. It's a stunner, and I look forward to more from this very talented author.Many thanks to Minotaur publishers for making the review copy available.
dizzyweasel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Review for NetGalley, May 2012. Beneath the Shadows is a rare treat of a novel: gothic, haunting, human, and incredibly readable. I haven't enjoyed a book this much all year. When Grace's husband Adam disappears without a trace, leaving their baby alone in its stroller on the porch of their lonely cottage on the moors, Grace's world is upended. After a year a grieving with family and trying to move on with her life, Grace decides to return to their cottage in search of answers and closure, but what she finds are more questions. She never believed that her husband abandoned her willfully that day, and as she uncovers more secrets from Adam's past, Grace determines to solve the terrible mystery. She is aided by Ben, the black sheep of an important local family with many secrets of its own. But as Grace delves deeper into the mystery, it becomes clear that someone wants her to leave it alone. Will Grace find out the truth of Adam's disappearance, or will she fall victim to unknown danger too? As far as mysteries go, this one was fairly simple: what happened to Adam? To complicate the mystery and give flavor to the story, the author plays with the gothic tone of Daphne du Maurier (and our heroine Grace picks up Rebecca for bedtime reading): there's a black dog, harbinger of death; a clock that mysteriously stops; colorful and silent locals; secret letters; a sinister cellar and attic; and a creepy local matriarch with too much interest in Grace's life. Grace's growing relationship with Ben helps offset the danger growing in the novel: the book flirts with horror, but never goes for cheap thrills. Even the relationship growing between Grace and Ben is gentley treated: Grace is soulsick, hurt, grieving, and tired. Ben is supportive and trustworthy. The reader is relieved for Grace that she can lay down the terrible burden of her husband's abadonment and momentarily rely on someone, since the other figures in her life are so volatile. Her sister is selfish and dramatic, and Grace's best friend is more interested in kindling romance than sharing Grace's grief. The only constant in Grace's life is her young daughter Millie, the only tie Grace has left to her husband. It's easy to identify with the characters in this novel, despite their vagueness. The author creates characters as feelings rather than images, leaving the reader with the impression of archetypes rather than complex characters. Grace is loss and mourning personified, Ben is stability and constancy, Annabel is frivolity and forgetting, etc. Anyone who has ever suffered a loss or devastating break-up can identify with Grace's anger, frustration, fear, and finally dread of actually finding out the truth. Like Grace, I both longed to race to the end and solve the mystery, and wanted to wait and hold on to the plot longer. The gothic tone and gentle momentum of this novel really won me over. My only complaints were (intially) with the cliché of the romance between Ben and Grace, though it was executed well, and the amount of drinking the heroine did. I'm not a parent, but I don't think I'd be drinking myself into a stupor if I were a single mother with a toddler sleeping in the next room (especially when said toddler's father disappeared under mysterious circumstances and I was all my daughter had left). But these are minor issues, and I strongly recommend this haunting, gothic read. 4.5 stars.
4daisies on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While not without it¿s flaws, this novel kept me engaged enough to stick with it to the end. When they receive an inheritance of a small cottage, a young couple, Grace and Adam, come with their baby daughter, Millie, to a small village where Adam had spent some time as a youth. Not long after arriving, Adam goes missing while out on a walk with Millie. Finding a note from Adam, explaining that he wants to have a talk with her and not to leave, Grace is waiting for them to return from their walk, getting progressively more worried as time stretches on, when she sees a dark shape on the front steps. She goes to investigate and finds the baby in her pram but Adam nowhere in site. The case quickly goes cold and Grace leaves the village with Millie, retreating into the loving, protective arms of her family. After a year, Grace decides to head back to the cottage to try to find answers about her husband¿s disappearance. With local ghost stories and legends read about in a book she found in the cottage filling her mind, strange things begin to happen. And so we begin. While the story has an interesting premise of a young woman who believes her missing husband could not possibly have just walked out on her, (as seems to be the prevailing attitude of authorities, friends and family), and is determined to find answers, it felt more like reading a mediocre high school play than a well conceived novel. Many of the situations were cliche for the genre: the creaking cellar door that mysteriously swings shut on its own (with no inside handle) trapping the heroine, the grandfather clock that creepily stops then randomly starts up again on its own showing the correct time, even a scratching sound in the wardrobe, etc. My biggest complaint was the cellar door issue. If you are going to put something like that into the story - it has to be consistent. When Grace first entered the cellar, it specifically mentions that she let the door swing shut behind her. This doesn¿t seem to be a particular problem except to scare her a bit since she is down there with a handyman that she doesn¿t know. There is no mention of any difficulty in getting out of the cellar then, yet the next time it is mentioned that she needs to prop the cellar door open, since there is no inside handle, potentially leaving her trapped if it accidentally swung shut on her again. Um- how did they get out last time? Anyway, that is the last time we hear about the problem of the cellar door even though there are many trips in and out of the cellar. It seems the author just forgot about that detail. The random discrepancies in minor details such as this left me irritated and less than enamored.
Wonderlust More than 1 year ago
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.
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the-PageTurner More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed in this book- I found it over long and in places boring
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tennesseestrait More than 1 year ago
Loved this book which I bought by accident. Can't wait for more from this author.
Lily_F More than 1 year ago
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.*
Dana77 More than 1 year ago
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.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
very good read, enjoyed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago