Sunday 3 October 2021

The Shadowing by Rhiannon Ward BLOG TOUR @sarahrward1 @TrapezeBooks #TheShadowing @Tr4cyF3nt0n #BookReview


When well-to-do Hester learns of her sister Mercy's death at a Nottinghamshire workhouse, she travels to Southwell to find out how her sister ended up at such a place.

Haunted by her sister's ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth, when the official story reported by the workhouse master proves to be untrue. Mercy was pregnant - both her and the baby are said to be dead of cholera, but the workhouse hasn't had an outbreak for years.

Hester discovers a strange trend in the workhouse of children going missing. One woman tells her about the Pale Lady, a ghostly figure that steals babies in the night. Is this lady a myth or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?

As Hester investigates, she uncovers a conspiracy, one that someone is determined to keep a secret, no matter the cost...

The Shadowing by Rhiannon Ward was published on 16 September 2021 by Trapeze. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour organised by Tracy from Compulsive Readers.

I have read and enjoyed all of this author's crime fiction novels (published under the name of Sarah Ward), and have been interested to discover her historical fiction. I do have a copy of her first one; The Quickening, but have not yet got to it. After enjoying The Shadowing so very much, I've now bumped that first one up the 'to be read' pile. 

One aspect of this novel that really intrigued me was the setting of Southwell in Nottinghamshire. I was brought up in the county, my parents still live there and I'm just over the border in Lincolnshire now. I've visited Southwell many times and do love to read about places that I know well. Rhiannon Ward brought this small town to life, although it was a very different place in the early 1800s, compared to the quiet, quite dignified town that is is today.

Hester Goodwin comes from a strict Quaker family in Bristol. Her father Amos is very traditional, and is feared more than he is loved. Amos is in very poor health and when a letter arrives from Southwell Workhouse in Nottinghamshire informing the family of the death of Hester's sister Mercy, they are so shocked. Mercy had eloped some time ago, and Amos forbade the use of her name after she left. To learn that she died a pauper in a far away county grieves her sister and her mother. 

It is decided that Hester will visit Southwell, to find out more about Mercy's death. She will stay with another Quaker family in the Nottinghamshire town. Whilst this family are strangers to Hester, the mother is an old schoolfriend and they are of the faith, so can be trusted.

Whilst Hester has visited the poor and sick, doing good works with her mother, she has never travelled alone, and the two-day journey by horse and carriage is a massive undertaking for her. On arrival at a coaching inn in Southwell, she finds nobody there to meet her, and is insulted to be mocked by the innkeeper. 

Hester is a proud, somewhat naive but determined young woman and takes it upon herself to visit the workhouse straight away. One other thing about Hester that differs from other girls of her age is the fact that she sees 'shadowings'; spirits of the dead appear to her. This has always angered her father and Hester now keeps her experiences to herself. Whilst at the workhouse, she feels as though she is accompanied at all times by the shadow of her dead sister Mercy, and what she sees and hears there make her more determined to find out exactly what happened, and is continuing to happen. 

This is an excellent gothic mystery, with a hint of the supernatural.  Exquisitely written with characters who almost leap from the page, it's such a well paced and wonderfully researched story. The author's skill at describing people, places, sounds, smells and atmosphere is just wonderful and I was utterly engrossed throughout. 

The story takes many an unexpected turn that I didn't anticipate at all, it's a fabulous mix of crime thriller and historical mystery. Superbly told and such a joy to read. One of my favourite books of the year so far and highly recommended. 

Rhiannon Ward is the pseudonym for Sarah Ward, the Amazon bestselling and critically acclaimed crime author.

Sarah has a masters degree in Religious History and has long been fascinated by the long tradition of spiritualism in England. A member of the Society of Psychical Research, Sarah has also studied Conan Doyle's passion for spiritualism. Sarah is a crime reviewer and book blogger at Crimepieces.

Follow Rhiannon on Twitter @sarahrward1

Find her on Facebook at:

No comments:

Post a Comment