4 Muffins Book Reviews

Review of ‘The Shadow Hour’ by Kate Riordan

Another book I was approved through NetGalley, and I was excited but a bit unsure of what to expect. It wasn’t a genre that I typically go for, but I quite enjoyed the story and the dual narrative elements within it.

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book


‘The Shadow Hour’ by Kate Riordan

It was in the shadow hours of deepest night that this tapestry of lies fell to rags . . .Harriet Jenner is just twenty-one when she walks through the gates of Fenix House. Reeling from a personal tragedy, she doesn’t expect her new life as a governess to be easy. But she certainly does not foresee the spell Fenix House will cast.Almost fifty years later, Harriet’s granddaughter Grace follows in her footsteps. For Grace, raised on Harriet’s spellbinding stories, Fenix House is a fairy tale; a magical place suspended in time.But the now-faded grandeur of the mansion soon begins to reveal the holes in Harriet’s story and Grace finds herself in a place of secrets and shadows. For Fenix House hides truths about her family, and everything that she once knew is about to change.

My Review


The Shadow Hour is regarded as historical fiction, set 20th century England. The story follows two narratives, about the adventures Grace and Harriet, granddaughter and grandmother, and governesses of Fenix House, but decades apart. Slowly it becomes apparent that the stories interlink and secrets are revealed that Grace never knew about her grandmother and her time as a governess. We are shown the events developing through the third person, and some incidents were quite unforeseen and dramatic compared to milder goings on throughout the story. The ending was fairly climactic, but it was more used to tie ends together and make everything fit into one piece in regards to the two separate stories coming together. The epilogue ties the thread with the prologue which was a great way to end the story. The plot wasn’t particularly fast paced, but moved steadily enough once the story started to develop, but the beginning did seem like a bit of a drag at times to get into it.

I feel like this book concentrated on the characters a lot, and especially their relationships with one another. i found this to be a very strong aspect within the book, and one that made it more and more intriguing to read as the plot developed. My favourite character was probably Robert Pembridge, for his gentle and caring but great love for Harriet, and the way he treated her, even though it would be considered ‘cheating’ by his wife. Agnes was quite a character too, as was Bertie, both young and old. Overall, the characters were all developed very well, including their bonds with each other, and each was unique with their own set of personality traits which made it a joy to read and picture them, and made it even more realistic.

There were some parts of the book which did keep me guessing, especially with cliffhangers at the end of a chapter then switching narratives to give us even more time to wait, but all in all there wasn’t a lot of guess work to be done, either that or I just didn’t feel the need to guess. Reflecting back on the story, there were some very exciting moments, and other fairly dull moments that kind of cancelled each other out to make for quite a neutral read, it’s hard to comment on. My favourite part of the book was the epilogue, when we find out everything that went on on the train ride with the accident, which first appears in the prologue. I found that a very clever writing technique to link the two together and give the reader more insight. As much as I felt connected to the characters, the book didn’t strike up a lot of emotion for me, not enough to make me sob or laugh hysterically.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a lover of contemporary fiction with (taboo) love stories and family connections, with well developed character relationships.

My Rating: 4 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):


The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

By bookmuffin

I like books and tea. MA Children's Literature student.

One reply on “Review of ‘The Shadow Hour’ by Kate Riordan”

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