The Stranger by Kate Riordan – Blog Tour Review.

the Stranger HB jacket

About the Book

Cornwall, 1940.

In the hushed hours of deepest night a young woman is found washed up on the rocks.

Was it a tragic accident? Or should the residents of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in?

In the midst of war three women arrive seeking safety at Penhallow Hall.

Each is looking to escape her past.

But one of them is not there by choice.

As the threat of invasion mounts and the nightly blackouts feel longer and longer, tensions between the close-knit residents rise until dark secrets start to surface.

And no one can predict what their neighbour is capable of . . .

In a house full of strangers, who do you trust?

My Review

The Stranger is the tale of three women, all of whom leave their home to work in the land army. Another, Eleanor lives in the house in which they work and live. All of them have something they are trying to escape from.
The novel starts when the body of a young woman is swept out to sea. At the same time a diary is being read, in which secrets are revealed. It then goes back in time by a few weeks to the moment they all met and you learn what happens.
There are three narrators – Eleanor,emotionally abused by her mother, Diana, beautiful, wilful, damaged and quite often cruel and Rose, struggling with her feelings about her marriage and the past. All three are lonely for different reasons and all find their own way of dealing with it.
I liked Rose immediately, she somehow managed to cope with being on the receiving end of Diana’s antics quite well. Which at the same time managed to annoy Diana even more. But even though Diana isn’t the easiest to like I was too quick to judge, she wasn’t as devious as I originally thought. Eleanor has a terrible relationship with her harridan of a mother, who had a carer who was nearly as bad. But with her husband’s help she knew she could make her life better.
The differing views of all the women towards the war was convincing, Rose concerned for her husband, but not as much as she should have been, Diana was indifferent, just wanting to party and Jane, the third land army member wanting to know all the details.
There is also a storyline connected to minor characters that broke my heart a little bit. It was a part of the novel that was very small but had plenty of impact.
It is a beautiful novel. The remoteness and beauty of Cornwall, the history of smuggling and the families who had lived in the area for years. I could practically hear the sea, and visualise everything about the local area. I had thought that Cornwall was one of the more untouched areas during the war but reading the events in the novel I was proven wrong.
The Stranger is another fantastic novel from Kate Riordan which I read very quickly. Poignant, determined, and hopeful for the future.

You can buy the book here

The Stranger blog tour

The Shadow Hour by Kate Riordan


Harriet Jenner is just twenty-one when she walks through the gates of Fenix House. Reeling from a personal tragedy, she doesn’t expect her new life as a governess to be easy. But she certainly does not foresee the spell Fenix House will cast.

Almost fifty years later, Harriet’s granddaughter Grace follows in her footsteps. For Grace, raised on Harriet’s spellbinding stories, Fenix House is a fairy tale; a magical place suspended in time.

But the now-faded grandeur of the mansion soon begins to reveal the holes in Harriet’s story and Grace finds herself in a place of secrets and shadows. For Fenix House hides truths about her family, and everything that she once knew is about to change.

My Review:

The Shadow Hour is a beautiful written account of two women who both worked for the same family. Harriet’s story takes place in 1878 and her grand daughter Grace’s in 1922. Grace goes to work at Fenix House at Harriet’s insistence. The house is now in a dilapidated condition, very different to how it was in Harriet’s time. A few family members are present in both times and one servant, Agnes.
Straight away Grace realises that Harriet’s story of her life there is inaccurate and as you get further into the novel the truth starts to come out.
It’s a lovely novel to read. Out of the two I preferred Grace to Harriet. She seemed to be a lot warmer and less brittle. One of the strongest parts of the novel was the account of the decline of the house and the family over the years. That Grace could still see the beauty underneath the neglect felt very believable. My favourite character was Agnes, headstrong, mouthy and sarcastic but also very loyal to the family and Harriet. I could sit and listen for hours to her talk about her life at Fenix House.
I plan to read Kate Riordan’s novel The Girl in the Photograph very soon.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.