Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the latest novel from Michelle Davies, Shadow Of A Doubt. I’ve really enjoyed the author’s Maggie Neville series so I was excited to see what this new book was all about. My thanks to the publisher, Orion, for providing an advance copy for review. Here’s the important book bit:
About the Book
Twenty-five years ago my brother was murdered in my family home.
I was sent to a psychiatric unit for killing him.
The truth is, I didn’t do it.
The whole world believed nine-year-old Cara killed her younger brother on that fateful night. But she blamed it on a paranormal entity she swears was haunting her house.
No one believed her and after two years of treatment in a psychiatric unit for delusional disorder, Cara was shunned by her remaining family and put into foster care.
Now she’s being forced to return to the family home for the first time since her brother’s death, but what if she’s about to re-discover the evil that was lurking inside its walls?
This book has a little bit of everything I like in a book – mystery, suspense and chills. From the off you get that sense of threat, os something lurking in the shadows that goes well beyond a young child’s imagination, and how right that is. Setting you on edge from that very first chapter, Michelle Davies takes us on a journey full of secrets and suspicion that kept me intrigued right to the last page.|
Talk about your complicated characters though. Cara is someone who it took time to get to like fully. Understandably evasive in terms of her background, she was generally always on edge and quite spiky, which makes her harder to get to know or trust. And yet, there was something in her unwavering belief of what happened when she was a child that drew me to her and had me impatient for the truth to be revealed. The author has pitched her character perfectly leaving you uncertain as to how much of what she believes is the actual truth and how much the result of an active childhood imagination combined with a potential psychological disorder. Whatever the truth, there is no doubting that Cara was dealt a very tough hand and it is hard not to feel some sympathy for her. I never once believed that she was as evil as her family made her out to be, but was she innocent either? It was hard to tell and the author leaves readers guessing for quite some time on that front.
When the reveal does come, and it does long before the end of the book, it left me even more intrigued then. Far from the ending being an anticlimax, the atmosphere that the author manages to imbue in the novel keeps the tension high and it still leaves you wondering just what is happening in Cara’s life and in the house which appears to be either haunted or cursed. There is a long held question of what really lurks in the shadows – real or imagined – and with a series of inexplicable events, you have to wonder who or what is out to get Cara. The author works hard to keep readers guessing, offering a number of suspects for consideration, all of whom have opportunity if not necessarily an obvious motive.
Michelle Davies has done a great job in establishing characters in the book, and whilst I didn’t particularly like Cara’s Aunt, Karen, I could see things from her perspective and the hatred she feels towards Cara. But her anger and determination to oust Cara from her inheritance, did make her an antagonistic character and hard to feel a sympathy for, in spite of the losses she had suffered and the more recent pain of losing her sister, Cara’s mother. And then there is Limey Stan. Real or a figment of Cara’s imagination? Simple shadow or something far more sinister? I’ll be honest, and say that I had a good guess as to what it was that Cara had been hearing all those years before, something that was confirmed in the. second half of the book where the narrative moved from Cara’s point of view to that of her mother twenty years earlier. The more I read of her, the less I liked her although there were some redeeming moments by the end of the novel.
The final scenes in this book are fraught and full of tension, the final showdown between Cara and her childhood tormentor quite dramatic. There is an underlying sense of threat throughout the book, a kind of chilling element to the story that always has you wondering without necessarily coming down on the side of Limey Stan being supernatural or otherwise. There is certainly a lot of emotion tied up in the story too, the anger and the sense of loss that is never fully realised in Cara’s life, and it makes this a really engrossing read. Recommended.
About the Author
Michelle Davies was born in Middlesex, raised in Buckinghamshire and now lives in north London.
When she’s not turning her hand to crime, Michelle writes as a freelance journalist for women’s magazines including Marie Claire, Essentials, YOU and Stylist. Her last staff job before going freelance was as Editor-at-Large at Grazia and she was previously Features Editor at heat. She began her career straight from school at 18, working as a trainee reporter on her home-town newspaper, the Bucks Free Press.