In Her Shadow – Louise Douglas

What must it be like, to live with the death of a friend every day of your life?

What must it be like when you see that supposed dead friend at your place of work?

Hannah Brown is the character in this wonderful book by Louise Douglas who has the answer to these important questions. A quiet childhood is suddenly broken into something much more noisy when Ellen Brecht arrives in Hannah’s life and Cornish village. Bringing with her a presence that cannot really be described but something that is tangible and affects everyone, including Ellen’s own father and Hannah’s friend, next door neighbour and adopted brother Jago.

A childhood is changed, as Hannah, Ellen and Jago are witnessed in the past, they grow through their teenage years of first love, first jobs and where the future may or may not take them. For Hannah she is struggling to cope with all this angst and finds herself unwittingly the go between for Ellen and Jago when romance blossoms for them, leaving Hannah out on her own. Do the decisions Hannah make have an effect on all of them?

Back in the present day of Hannah’s life, she is very fragile. Her work does not seem to sustain her, visits to her family home bring back too many memories and the broken down relationship with Jago, her adopted brother has meant that she is still struggling to come to terms with the past. The sighting of her dead friend brings her fragility to the fore and Hannah can only be heading for another breakdown.

As each chapter moves between the present and the past events, each building on what is going on for Hannah, the suspense is built and the mystery becomes complicated and I had to keep reading to find out exactly what Hannah had seen that day at work and since. It would all be explainable, wouldn’t it?

Another excellent book for me from Louise Douglas who I only discovered last year.

Thank you to the publishers for sending me this book for review. 

This book has elements of the gothic novel and something of Daphne Du Maurier to it, the house where Ellen is has something very toxic about it, but actually reading on it is never the house but those that live in it. The descriptions of the bay where the three used to go took you away to somewhere else, windswept where the elements took you at their worst and their best. 

This book would be good to read alongside another book I read and reviewed recently – Drowning Rose by Marika Cobbold, which also deals with the issue of the death of a friend in a very different way. Neither book though makes you feel depressed with such a subject as death, they are both beautifully crafted.