Published on 16th September, The Shadowing by Rhiannon Ward follows well-to-do Hester who travels to a Nottinghamshire workhouse in Southwell after learning of her sister Mercy’s death. Eager to find out how her sister ended up at such a place and haunted by her sister’s ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth. She soon finds out that Mercy was pregnant, and that both she and the baby are said to be dead of cholera. But the workhouse hasn’t had an outbreak for years. So when rumours of children going missing and of a ghostly figure known as the Pale Lady that steals babies in the night, Hester investigates. Is this lady a myth? Or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?
Today is my stop on the blog tour for this book. Thank you to Compulsive Readers and Trapeze for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When I saw that this book was set in the Nottinghamshire town of Southwell, my interest was instantly gripped as I grew up a few miles away from the town and was excited to see how the setting would be used. And I really enjoyed learning about the town and the history of this real-life workhouse.
The Shadowing is a mysterious and absorbing historical fiction that is full of superstition. Set during the 1830s with a focus on small-town living, society and religion, I love the insight that Ward gives on this era. I’m always fascinated by books that can transport you to a different time and there was so much about this story that I found interesting.
However, I didn’t know a lot about Quakers or the Religious Society of Friends, so I personally could have done with a little more set-up and detail about this period of time to really get a sense of the setting. And while I enjoy looking into subjects more after reading about them, I needed more insight beforehand to really understand the conformities, beliefs and behaviours of its characters.
I soon got into the story, however, and found the characters all very compelling. The third part of the book is especially gripping and I really liked how the story came together and the answers that were provided. There were a few things that I wanted more answers to, though, but I was constantly excited to see which route the story would go down.
There’s a lot that I really enjoyed about this book and I think that Ward does a great of using this setting as the backdrop of an authentic gothic tale. I just wanted the supernatural elements to be used more and some more in-depth history to really make me catch my breath, and then I really would have loved this.
That being said, The Shadowing is a really great autumnal read. I could feel the atmosphere of the eerie workhouse, the squelch of the muddy roads, and the confinement of the damp and desolate inn. And with a touch of supernatural, it definitely puts a chill in the air. I will definitely be reading more by Ward in the future.
The Shadowing by Rhiannon Ward
Release Date: 16th September 2021
Print Length: 320 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
When well-to-do Hester learns of her sister Mercy’s death at a Nottinghamshire workhouse, she travels to Southwell to find out how her sister ended up at such a place.
Haunted by her sister’s ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth, when the official story reported by the workhouse master proves to be untrue. Mercy was pregnant – both her and the baby are said to be dead of cholera, but the workhouse hasn’t had an outbreak for years.
Hester discovers a strange trend in the workhouse of children going missing. One woman tells her about the Pale Lady, a ghostly figure that steals babies in the night. Is this lady a myth or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?
As Hester investigates, she uncovers a conspiracy, one that someone is determined to keep a secret, no matter the cost…
About The Author:
Rhiannon Ward is the pseudonym for Sarah Ward, the Amazon bestselling and critically acclaimed crime author.
Sarah has a masters degree in Religious History and has long been fascinated by the long tradition of spiritualism in England. A member of the Society of Psychical Research, Sarah has also studied Conan Doyle’s passion for spiritualism. Sarah is a crime reviewer and book blogger at Crimepieces.