Monday, June 29, 2020

✱✱Book Review✱✱ In Her Shadow by Kristin Miller

In Her Shadow
by Kristin Miller

A pregnant young woman becomes obsessed with the disappearance of her lover’s wife, only to discover that she may be headed for the same fate, in this novel from New York Times bestselling author Kristin Miller

When secretary Colleen Roper becomes pregnant by her boss, Michael, he whisks her away to Ravenwood, his opulent estate. Abruptly thrust into a life of luxury she’s never known, Colleen finds the immense house suffused with the memory of Michael’s wife, Joanna, who left months ago and haunts her imagination. With rooms she’s prohibited from entering and a staff that greets her with hostility, there is little room for a new mistress of Ravenwood.

It’s not long before bones are unearthed in the grove across the street and Michael falls under the suspicion of detectives. The soon-to-be mother of his child finds herself hurled deeper into her lover’s dark past, a past filled with unfaithfulness and deception. Making a claim to her new life is harder than it seems—especially since she’s walking in the shadow of the hauntingly beautiful Joanna. As Colleen untangles truth from lies, she discovers that nothing is what it seems, and that some people will kill to keep their secrets as quiet as the dead.

Inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, In Her Shadow is the chilling story of one woman’s desperate desire to be loved and the ghosts that threaten to get in her way.
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Momma Says: 3 stars ⭐⭐

I was a little leary of In Her Shadow on my first inspection. The chapter titles could go a couple of different ways. My first thought was about whether or not I wanted to read a book where it seems like the ending is already understood. Then, I thought about another way those chapter titles could be taken, and again, it kind of gives the game away. Either of those could depend on an individual's experience with thrillers, and I suppose since my brain did go in a couple of different directions, it goes without saying that I read thrillers pretty regularly. So, with all that in mind, I dove in, but I admit that at least some of my interest was in which way it would go.
Once I started reading, I felt like this could be something to really get invested in, something to keep me turning those pages, reading just one more chapter until the wee hours of the night. The problem is that the more I read, the more convoluted the story became. 
First and foremost, this book suffers from too many points of view. I was starting to worry that every single character in the story would get their own point of view, and I've gotta say that had the grumpy chef or catty housekeeper gotten a chapter of their own, I may very well have stopped reading. The detective certainly got his fair share of page time, which I'm still a little confused about. I mean, we get some of the detecting, but this really isn't a procedural. And since it's not a procedural, I'm a little confused as to why we need so much information about the detective's late wife. Once everything comes together, it's clear that the detective is only included so much in order to propel things the way the author wanted them to go. He's kind of a throwaway character other than for that reason, which is one of the worst kind in my opinion. 
As far as the characters go, I'm just gonna say it - I didn't like a single one. Not the husband, not the girlfriend, not the neighbors, not the staff, not even the victim. I didn't find a single character in this book who was even remotely likable. The closest it comes is Colleen in the beginning, and she mostly just comes across as desperate and pathetic. And on top of being unlikable, every character who gets their own point of view is practically the very definition of the unreliable narrator. The only exception is the detective, and I've already given my thoughts on him. I won't go into the rest so I don't completely spoil it for anyone, but it would've been nice to like at least one of the players in this game. 
Even so, the book isn't all bad. Kristin Miller does an excellent job with the almost Hitchcockian atmosphere. It's kind of Gothic and kind of not, and there are secrets to be discovered. The ending is also a pleasant surprise - sort of. I started to guess how things were going to go about halfway through, but I didn't know the details of it all. Unless I missed it, this is one of those thrillers where there's really no way to figure out the details short of reading the last couple of chapters early, and that's a big no-no for me. 
So what I ended up with was a book that fell somewhere in the middle for me. The atmosphere was great, and there are a couple of decent red herrings along the way, but I could've done without so many points of view and so many thoroughly unlikable characters. 

❃❃ARC provided by NetGalley and Ballantine Books

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