Skip to main content

A Heritage of Shadows by Madeleine Brent

Awhile back, Rachel over at Rachel Reads mentioned Madeleine Brent--an author I'd never heard of before. I read Rachel's reviewof Moonraker's Bride and decided to go find it based on her 9.5/10 rating and the fact that the cover image she posted reminded me of several of my more beloved Mary Stewart paperbacks.Moonraker's Bride was checked out, but my library did have a copy of A Heritage of Shadows which looked intriguing enough for me. 

The story follows young Hannah MacLeod who has lived more life in her eighteen years than most have by the time they're fifty. When the tale opens she is working twelve hours a day at a small bistro in Montmartre, living in a one-room apartment that ranks just above a garret, and is pleased as punch to be doing so. Her perplexing attitude is explained through the hinting of some horror in her past which led to her fleeing her native England for Paris and the comforting anonymity of her current life. She has no family and only one friend, one Toby Kent, a boisterous sailor/impressionist painter who is gone for months at a time but when he's in town provides some companionship and a nice dinner or two. In return for this, Hannah cleans his clothes and sits for the occasional portrait.

Unfortunately for Hannah and, as any suspense novel reader knows, self possessed but mysteriously haunted young women of independent means can never outrun their past for long. Events overtake Hannah and she is forced to return to England in an attempt to avoid disaster. She takes refuge teaching French to a rich merchant's two teenage children. The rich merchant, however, seems to know of her past and soon Hannah is caught up in a play for power and revenge that stretches back for decades and somehow involves her. Eventually we learn just exactly how heavily Hannah paid for her self possession and how much more she is forced to pay the demons that haunt her. 

This book was like popping a particularly fine piece of foreign chocolate in your mouth. The layers that emerge, one on top of another, alternately surprise and delight you. I felt very protective of and close to Hannah and any scene Toby was in made me laugh. Which was a good thing because Hannah's story ended up being much darker than I was expecting and the moments of humor were much appreciated. A sweet, enjoyable read. I went back to the library today and got two more Brent books. 

Comments

  1. Angie, I'm glad you liked Brent! (And I love those 1970/80s covers, too.) Your description of how the story is so layered is a great observation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really did like it, particularly that is surprised me in several places. Thanks for the rec!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

You Might Also Like

In the Beginning, or the First Ten Books I Reviewed on the Blog

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish feature hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl
It's been awhile, but this topic was too good to pass up. When I thought about it, I genuinely could not recall which were the first ten books I actually reviewed here on the blog. So then, of course, I had to know. The thing is, I originally started the whole thing simply posting a once a month list of my favorite reads and rereads of the month. That went on for some time until lo and behold I went ahead and wrote and posted my first review on November 9, 2007. In hindsight, I probably should have known exactly which book pushed me over the edge into full fledged reviews. So this was a rather delightful journey back in time. Do you remember the first book you ever reviewed (in any forum) or what made you take the plunge? Here are my first ten (and I have to say, looking at this snapshot from the past, these remain some of my absolute favorite authors and a pretty spot-on array of the genres I read and love tod…

Angie's Little Free Library

I've wanted to post about this for the last while, but . . . life. Ever since we took a family trip a few years ago and ran across one of these Little Free Libraries somewhere in the wilds of Colorado, I've dreamed of putting one up in our yard and filling it with all the books. Since I am a serial book collector, it seemed as though it wouldn't be a hardship keeping one stocked. I can't even imagine the various ways my head would have exploded as a kid if I'd stumbled across one of these in any of the many neighborhoods where we lived when I was growing up. I would have absolutely haunted it.

And then my beautiful husband and his beautiful siblings went and gave me one. They even dug the hole and poured the concrete. I painted it, carefully selected the first books, and before I knew it there were actual people stopping. They were actually browsing. And it was approximately one thousand percent as magical as I imagined it might be. So I threw caution to the winds…

Review | The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

All it took was hearing the basic bones of the premise of Beth O'Leary's debut novel The Flatsharefor me to determine I would absolutely be reading it as soon as I possibly could. I was so delighted to be granted access to an advanced reading copy by Flatiron Books. Even better, it became apparent from the moment I read the first few lines that this reading experience would take place in one headlong rush. No significant breaks allowed, let alone required. The Flatshare was published first in the UK and then slightly later here in the U.S. I dithered over which cover to buy as both have much to recommend them, but I finally decided on the U.S. cover (pictured here). I just love the two of them standing on either side of the same door, the tiny heart between the title and author name.

Tiffy is in a massive, massive bind. Out on her ear after breaking up with her exceptionally controlling boyfriend, she needs an inexpensive place to live and she needs it yesterday. Despite her …