Shadow Falls by Wendy Dranfield

I was drawn to this book by the mysterious landscape depicted on the cover. I am a sucker for a landscape cover image!! I love that the title suggests darkness and mystery. The blurb also makes the book sound like a thrilling, original read!

You thought your little girl was safe at summer camp. You were wrong…

The little girl drags her eyes open, realizing she’s starting to fade. She tries calling out—“Daddy?”—using all her remaining strength. But she’s too late and her voice just isn’t loud enough…

When Detective Madison Harper arrives at a remote summer camp in Shadow Falls, northern California, her heart breaks for Jenny, the sweet little girl last seen splashing in the lake with her friends before she vanished. Peering into the silent cabins filled with rows of neatly made beds, Madison knows this idyllic place is hiding a terrible secret.

The girl’s parents are distraught, and the local police have no leads—they desperately need Madison’s help. She’ll do whatever it takes to crack this case, because it’s the only way back to the son she lost to the care system years ago when she was framed for a crime she didn’t commit.

But with the camp staff keeping tight-lipped and her new partner on the edge of a breakdown, Madison can’t find any truth to her instinct that there is more to Jenny’s perfect parents than meets the eye. Until she discovers a disturbing family portrait Jenny drew at the local library. Was this angelic girl more troubled than anybody knew? Was she in danger from those she trusted most?

One thing is certain, if Madison doesn’t find the answers soon, the lives of more innocent children will be at risk…

My thoughts:

Wow! Where do I start?! I have been absolutely blown away by this book. I have been torn between rushing through to discover the outcome or slowing down and savouring every wonderful page.

I have to admit that I generally do enjoy a book where the main plot focuses around a missing child. This plot focus usually ensures that the narrative is highly charged with emotion and fast moving to reflect the danger to the child and the desperation for their safe return. This has definitely been an exciting and fast paced read!

I have also enjoyed meeting the characters in this book. The way the narrative focuses on Madison and Nate’s movements and choices meant that I developed a connection with them and was able to empathise with them at many points. The other, peripheral characters are mysterious and become questionable, some even unlikeable. Wendy Dranfield has definitely proved her ability to create fascinating characters.

The use of the motif of Anna’s personal diary is a great technique that also makes the book highly original. Alongside the main action of the story, we are able to follow Anna’s thoughts and feelings, and in some ways her descent into madness. It adds to the tension of the book and provided some great cliff hangers!

The ending of the book is explosive, shocking and completely unpredictable. I paid close attention to the clues throughout, and felt like an investigator myself at times, but I was not able to predict that ending at all! I was very excited that the ending left the narrative open for a follow up, and I was so glad to see the author confirm this in her note at the end. I am really looking forward to reading it!


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