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  • Location: Cheltenham

The Shadow Hour

The Shadow Hour

Why a Booktrail?

1878/1922: A stunning gothic mystery with Fenix House and two governesses who worked there decades apart.

  • ISBN: 978-1405917445
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

Fenix House, the mysterious house full of secrets and lies where Harriet Turner was once a governess. Now many decades later, her granddaughter Grace is sent to work there, by Harriet herself who encourages her to take on the role. Her stories about Fenix House over the years have been preparation she explains for Grace’s new role. Curious and nervous, Grace starts her new life.

But the house at first seems cold and distant, not to mention the strange inhabitants. Her charge Lucas seems odd, her master distant and what about the strange noises in the attic? The stories her grandmother told her about the house itself also seem to be untrue. Just what is this place and why is she here?

Travel Guide

Even before you arrive at Fenix House, the journey to it is one of wonder and delight. A steam train no less – it’s 1921 and there’s excitement aboard this new mode of travel. The sweat and toil, chatter and steam rise up, the signal sounds……..

Fenix House near Cheltenham (sadly fictional)

Fenix House is not the fairytale setting Grace’s grandmother told her about. Instead it is a faded manor home, dark and cold, mysterious and creep with noises in the shadows and secrets in its walls. Not to mention the overgrown and disheveled gardens and grounds. It’s as if the house is stuck in time with its secrets, and ‘seams of unswept dust’  holding on to them.

The dark gothic tones shade each and every page:

“The wallpaper had darkened with soot and age and in the dampest corners was peeling as though it wanted to quite such a sadly diminished room”

Even back in 1878, the shades of gothic darkness pervades Fenix House and its inhabitants. The gate clangs, the figures seem to float like ghosts across each scene and Mr Pembridge, master of the house is a troubled soul indeed.

The real and full picture of Fenix House gradually comes into focus as we flit from one time period to another, the house fading in present day from its gothic grandeur of the past. But the light is always dim here, but there is just enough to highlight such delicious detail as sunlight on red hair, moonlight on bejewelled daggers and glints in someone’e eye. Not to mention the spectral  and claustrophobic mazes and the mysterious inhabitant who lives in the attic.

The age of steam trains

There is also a rich history of the spa town and the steam trains nearby which you can see for yourself by visiting the Swindon’s museum of the Great Western Railway and of course by popping by the tourist site for Cheltenham itself and trying to find that elusive Fenix House for yourself…

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

Words can not do this book justice in my mind. This is BY FAR one of the best books I’ve ever read for the sheer enjoyment of immersing myself so much in a book that I’m still reading it at 2am despite needing to get up early the next morning.

The writing is exquisite and the attention to detail gorgeously delectable. The dual time line with secrets from 1878 and 1921 work very well and blend seamlessly. There are so many twists and turns that I guessed wrong on many an occasion as to what would happen! Kate how you played with my mind and emotions!

The plot is woven expertly like one of those tapestries you see hanging in a gothic house and each thread so innocent until you stand back and see the full picture. Who would have thought of the real reason for Grace being there and why Harriet told the stories she did?

The opening scene was also a delight  – what an introduction! The return to the train later on….I know I’m gushing but it’s just so delighted me I don’t know what else to say.

Kate Genius Riordan is one very clever lady. How you wrote such a lyrical and utterly captivating novel I don’t know. But I’m so so happy you did.

Booktrail Boarding Pass Information:

Twitter: @KateRiordanUK

Web: kateriordan.com

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