Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster - Fiction
In this thrilling gothic suspense debut by Sara Foster in the tradition of Rosamund Lupton and Sophie Hannah, a young mother searches Yorkshire's windswept moors for the truth behind her husband's mysterious disappearance.
THE ANSWERS ARE HIDING BENEATH THE SHADOWS
When Grace's husband, Adam, inherits an isolated North Yorkshire cottage, they leave the bustle of London behind to try a new life. A week later, Adam vanishes without a trace, leaving their baby daughter, Millie, in her stroller on the doorstep. The following year, Grace returns to the tiny village on the untamed heath. Everyone—the police, her parents, even her best friend and younger sister—is convinced that Adam left her. But Grace, unable to let go of her memories of their love and life together, cannot accept this explanation. She is desperate for answers, but the slumbering, deeply superstitious hamlet is unwilling to give up its secrets. As Grace hunts through forgotten corners of the cottage searching for clues, and digs deeper into the lives of the locals, strange dreams begin to haunt her. Are the villagers hiding something, or is she becoming increasingly paranoid? Only as snowfall threatens to cut her and Millie off from the rest of the world does Grace make a terrible discovery. She has been looking in the wrong place for answers all along, and she and her daughter will be in terrible danger if she cannot get them away in time.
"A haunting tale of loss and one woman's search for the truth no matter the consequences. This vividly written novel will leave you breathless and as chilled as the starkly beautiful North Yorkshire moors where this compelling story unfolds." –Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of These Things Hidden
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They should be home.
The thought scratched at Grace's mind as she peered out of a narrow upstairs window. The sun had long since been banished behind a blanket of thick grey cloud. In front of her, the wild moorland rolled away to be absorbed by the gloom of twilight.
Grace turned and trailed through the cottage, flicking at wall switches, shaking the shadows from their slumbers and driving them out. She moved as though in a trance, the surroundings still surreal to her, although it had been over a week since they had moved in. The upstairs corridor was poky, and the ceiling so low that she had spent the last few days watching Adam stooping under the beams. The staircase was steep, the wood beneath the carpet uneven, so it was better to tread on the outer edges of each step rather than stumble into the indentations of myriad footsteps gone before.
She made her careful way downstairs, through the small living room that was littered with packing boxes, and headed into the kitchen, moving again to a window, unable to stop herself from looking out across the sloping moors towards the distant road that wound in and out of sight. A few trees were silhouetted on the horizon, their brittle skeletons bent from regular lashings by the coastal winds. The view before her was utterly still.
She took a deep breath, trying to quell the worry that was winding her nerves into knots. Adam's note had unsettled her. "Won't be long. I have to talk to you when I get back, don't go anywhere. A x"
Back in the lounge, Grace threw herself into an armchair, one hand brushing over the raked leather where a long-dead cat had once regularly sharpened its claws. She looked around the cottage—their cottage, though it was nearly impossible to think of it that way.
"It's an incredible gift," she could still hear Adam enthusing, over and over, when they had first found out his grandparents had bequeathed Hawthorn Cottage to him. "It's like fate is giving us a bloody great shove in the back. Our own place, no mortgage, away from the rat race, a chance for Millie to start life among nature rather than believing that trees grow through cracks in the pavement. Come on, Gracie, let's give it a go."
At that point Grace had been overwhelmed by pads and pumps and nappies, and had somehow found herself agreeing with every point he made. Adam was right. Who wanted red-top buses flying past their London flat at all hours; noise, lights, people everywhere? This way they could escape their financial pressures for a while. She didn't want to leave Millie while she was tiny, and go back to her marketing job, with its meager wage and demanding retail clients. It wasn't her vocation, and to satisfy her demanding boss she often had to stay long after office hours were over.
They couldn't avoid the fact that their priorities were changing. Adam and Grace had begun their relationship to a backdrop of fine restaurants and raucous weekends away with friends. Now, in their thirties, most people they knew had children, their social life had dwindled, and they wouldn't be the first ones to make the move out of the city. Grace began to imagine the possibilities that the cottage in North Yorkshire would present: the chance to cook proper meals for a change, taking Millie for long country walks in the fresh air, and snuggling up to Adam in the evenings. She wouldn't have to give up anything either—she could take the maximum maternity leave she was allowed while they gave it a try. To top it off, they'd be free of the extortionate repayments on their tiny two-bedroom flat; so instead of struggling, they might even save. And, as Adam said, if it didn't...
Beneath the Shadows
By: Sara Foster