The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell is May's SheReads book of the month. Each month a large group of bloggers promote one wonderful book as part of the SheReads group.
Lila is living, or trying to get back into the world of the living, when she receives an anonymous letter in the mail with a key in it. They key leads her to an abandoned cottage. She flees her husband and mother, heading to check out this plot of land in an area she has never even visited. Arriving she begins to find clues to the history of the cottage, including a bullet hole in a beam and a drawing of five people on a wall.
Flashback to 1980, you will find five graduates living in this cottage after stumbling on it. They decide to live there for one full year, living off the ground and the bare necessities. As the seasons change, the five friends find themselves struggling to find food and living with more and more tension.
I read this book during an extremely crazy and busy week. Often I would find myself finding a quiet corner to read one more chapter, just because I have to know what would happen next. The fact that it was told in two parts, with the parts not quite weaving together although I knew they had to at some point. It was perfect that they two stories were told in alternating chapters.
Each of the five graduates had their own personalities. Simon was the in charge guy. I felt he was incredibly manipulative and many times I wondered if these five were some sort of a cult with him as their leader. Kat was so wishy washy. She let everyone walk all over her, due to her fear of being alone. Mac was the quiet observer. He saw it all and stayed out of the way. Ben and Carla were the happy couple. They seemed to do their own thing, being removed from the group, but not quite outsiders. There was also a surprise visitor to this group. This visitor was the most interesting to me. She appears almost unaware of what is going on around. As the story went on I believe this stranger knew more that she let on and was well aware of what was going on. The fact that they all managed to live together for a year was amazing to me.
I devoured this book. I was intrigued by who Lila really was, knowing there had to be a connection to the five friends. I felt like I was solving a puzzle, getting clues in each and every chapter.
The Shadow Years is a definite recommendation for all readers from me.