Book Review: The Shadow Child

Rachel Hancox ~ The Shadow Child


Cath and Jim, are a happily married couple whose lives are completely upended when their daughter, Emma, walks out and never contacts them again. They have no idea where she is, nor why she left, nor even whether she is safe. The authorities are sympathetic but Emma is turning eighteen, so there are limits to the help they offer.

Cath and Jim are shipwrecked, yet they have somehow to continue living. As they attempt to rebuild themselves, and their relationship with each other, they use an inheritance to buy a small rental property – an almost perfect little house so unlike anything they ever had when young. Lara and Nick, their first tenants, remind Cath and Jim of themselves at a time when they were full of hope before life went wrong. And so begins an unlikely friendship that has the power to heal or destroy them…


Reading the synopsis and perusing the cover, you could be mistaken in thinking that this is a thriller. The first part provides a sense of foreboding and as the pieces fall into place it definitely feels that something untoward has happened to Emma.

But at its heart is really a story of friendships and love. The characters all have sorrow and secrets to hide, yet Hancox weaves their lives together in a very clever way that shows the skill of her writing.

While it is a lovely story, as a whole it is quite underwhelming. There is limited character development and it is hard to truly empathise with any of them. Emma’s past holds a lot of painful memories and her choice to leave – while understandable – still feels selfish. Her parents reactions are described in ways which make us feel something sinister is due to happen. But it never does.

Lara and Nick provide a bit more excitement and depth (and their story does tug on the heartstrings), but is still a bit lacking. We assume there is hope for them, but it’s not clear.

It’s well-written and I did enjoy it, but sadly I was left feeling disappointed as I was expecting more.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Thank you to Century Publishing and Random Things Tours for my proof and finished copy. Opinions my own.

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