In Her Shadow, by Mark Edwards

Nine stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Mark Edwards, and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Mark Edwards is back with another spine-chilling novel that takes the reader inside the eerie world of communication with the afterlife, yet another branch of psychological thrillers. Jessica is the proud mother of two children, though it would seem her youngest has begun acting out at school. When she arrives to speak with the teacher, Jessica learns that Olivia has been making many comments about her friend, Izzy, who’s died. Although Olivia is only four, Jessica refuses to take any chances and soon learns that her daughter is speaking about a member of the family. It would seem that Izzy, Olivia’s aunt, died after leaping from her balcony at home, not long after little Olivia was born. How might Olivia be communicating with her aunt, save through some sort of spirit portal? Thoughts of this nature remind Jessica of a situation from her own youth, when she and Izzy were visited by an uncle’s spirit who was highly disruptive. Jessica refuses to believe that Olivia has any contact with her dead sister and pushes the limits to find out who might be feeding her daughter such information. However, the evidence keeps piling up that Olivia has a way to speak to ‘Izzy’ and there are things that few others ever knew, yet they seem to be coming from Olivia’s mouth with ease. The entire situation opens up new fears in Jessica when Olivia admits one night that Izzy was pushed and murdered by someone. Could there be some truth to this? If so, how much does Olivia know and can her connection with Izzy help re-open a police investigation? Edwards uses his skills to lure the reader deep into the story and soon the story has taken over their entire brain, forcing them to race forward and discover what’s happened before turning off the light at night. Perfect for those who love Mark Edwards’ work, as well as the reader who enjoys blindsides throughout.

I have long enjoyed Mark Edwards and his writing, finding myself susceptible to his style of narration so much that I lose track of time. Even when I want to read only a few pages, I find it hard to put down one of his books until I have resolution to the mystery at hand. Edwards has a wonderful way of connecting the reader to his characters, especially a strong-minded protagonist like Jessica. The reader learns much about her throughout, both her backstory and current development as she fights to get to the bottom of both the Izzy and Olivia situations. There is much to discover and the story peels things back slowly enough as to keep the reader flipping pages, but not too quickly as to be a let-down. Alongside Jessica are a handful of other characters, all of whom bring their own flavour to the story, particularly those who crossed paths with Izzy in the days and weeks before her death. Edwards keeps the reader wondering if it could have been murder and who might have the most plausible motive to end the life of this interesting woman. That also serves to promote Izzy into the role of secondary protagonist, as flashbacks and extensive dialogue throughout resurrect her personality throughout the entire piece. Edwards effectively weaves past and present into a seamless plot and keeps everyone guessing until the very end. The story was brilliantly executed and the reader will surely find themselves surrounded by possible culprits and mysteries they ask themselves, all while the narrative forges onwards. With clipped dialogue that keeps the story realistic, Edwards leaves little time to ponder, as each chapter presents new and interesting perspectives to keep things from going stale. I have yet to find a dud when Mark Edwards is at the helm and hope many readers will follow me and get hold of this book in short order.

Kudos, Mr. Edwards, for another winner. I hope those who have yet to discover your writing style do so soon, for you have a great deal to offer the genre and those who love it so very much!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: