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The Shadow Hour

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,066 ratings  ·  149 reviews
Nineteen twenty-two. Grace has been sent to the stately and crumbling Fenix House to follow in her grandmother's footsteps as a governess. But when she meets the house's inhabitants, people who she had only previously heard of in stories, the cracks in her grandmother's tale begin to show. Secrets appear to live in the house's very walls and everybody is resolutely protect ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published February 25th 2016 by Penguin Random House
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,066 ratings  ·  149 reviews

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Amalia Gavea
Kate Riordan's first novel, "The Girl in the Photograph", was one of the most atmospheric reads of last year. It contained everything we have come to associate worth the good, old British Gothic Fiction. An old mansion, dual time narration, a governess that finds herself in front of dark family secrets and a touch of the Creepy and, possibly, the Paranormal. In "The Shadow Hour", Riordan repeats herself and this is more than obvious. However, there is absolutely no Gothic element, unless we coun ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
The year is 1922 and Grace has been hired to be a little boy's governess in the crumbling Fenix House. She is following in her grandmother's footsteps who was governess there years ago. Grace has heard stories since she was little about the house, but she realized when she arrives at Fenix House that her grandmother's stories perhaps not are all true. Why did her grandmother that she should work at the house and what really happened all the years ago when her grandmother worked a summer at Fenix ...more
Sad Sunday (If I say it's bad, it's bad)
I guess I can't say I "read" it because I skip-read almost all book, but I will still mark it as "not-finished". So, DNF could is still raining on me.


I think it's more family drama than creepy suspense Gothic tale that I expected and wanted to read. Wanted to have some fun with Rebecca and Jane Eyre, but got this "Oh, the stairs are creaking, there must be millions of ghosts in here!" idea all over the place. Sometimes old house, it just old house, ladies O_O.

Also, disliked how two timelines we
(3.5) A clever dual-timeline novel with a pleasing Gothic flavor. In 1922 Grace Fairford takes up a governess position at Fenix House near Cheltenham, the very place where her grandmother, Harriet Jenner, worked in 1878. The home is now noticeably dilapidated, but Grace gradually realizes many of the same people, both masters and servants, are still there.

Every few chapters the perspective shifts from Grace (first person) to Harriet (third person). The novel is full of coincidences and the sense
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was so prepared to give this a 3.5+ until I read the ending.
That epilogue was the most pointless thing I have ever read at the end of a book.

Despite the book being pretty long (in comparison to those I usually read anyway) I wanted more. I wanted to know if Grace told David and the others what her grandmother had told her about their relations. I wanted to know about Essie. I wanted to know about Lucas. But no, it just ended. We got all this information at the end and that was it. Nothing
Aggie Unsworth
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
My full review is up on my blog here...
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
1878 and Fenix House is a beautiful Manor situated high on a hill surrounded by glorious gardens and with a lovely view of the land that surrounds her, and Harriet Jenner is governess to the children that live there.
Servants are kept busy with their many tasks including attending to the many demands of the mistress of the house Louisa Dauncey. Robert Pembridge owner of the manor and husband to Louisa is a kind and gentle man with a generous heart. A good man he stands tall and is fair with his
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a book that offers a lovely escape into the past.

It twists together the stories of two governesses, grandmother Harriet and grand-daughter Grace, whose lives are entangled with the family whose children they will both teach.

Grace was brought up by her grandmother after her parents died in a train crash. She loved listening to her grandmother’s stories of the days when she was governess at Fenix House; she spoke of the house and how life was lived there; of her charges, Helen and Victoria
David Reviews
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing

The Shadow Hour is another beautifully told story from Kate Riordan. Historical fiction told through a dual time-slip narrative. I loved young Grace as the mysteries and intrigue unfold at Fenix House where she uncovers family secrets following in her Grandmothers footsteps as governess to the family’s children. Another fine novel from the author and a one I am happy to recommend to readers.

It seems that destiny has brought twenty two year old Grace to the doors of Fenix House. Born at the turn
Joanna Park
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I was really looking forward to reading this book and am pleased to say I really enjoyed it! The Shadow Hours is the story of Harriet's and then her granddaughter Grace's time as governess at Fenix House.

Alternating between two time periods this novel rattles along at a great pace with the intrigue and events coming at regular period which makes you want to keep reading long into the night. It was also an easy book to put down and pick up which was great for a busy mum who only gets to read at
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this historical drama which is told in two timelines with Fenix House near Cheltenham at its centre. In 1922 Grace joins the household as Governess to Lukas, the son of David Pemberton. What the Pembertons do not know is that fifty years earlier, Grace’s grandmother Harriet was also Governess for a short while there, albeit a time that had a huge impact on the family and Harriet herself. The read unfolds from both perspectives to reveal a story of fated romances, drama, intrigue ...more
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
I loved The Girl in the Photograph so I was really looking forward to reading this latest book.
I thought this was a wonderful book, Kate Riordan has a style of writing that is a pleasure to read, descriptive but not boring, and with jumps backwards and forwards between two time periods which I enjoy. The sort of book that captures you instantly and lets you get lost in its pages, perfect for curling up with on those miserable cold days.
The shadow Hour is an excellent novel from this very talen
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This reminded me very much of a Kate Morton novel, with a tale split between two timelines, one in 1878 and one in 1922. In 1878, Harriet goes to work as a governess at Fenix House, charged with looking after the 2 daughters of the house. In 1922, her granddaughter Grace goes to the same house to work as a governess, and finds the place much changed from her grandma's stories. She also soon discovers that her grandma lied about quite a few things. This is a gripping, gothic tale with lots of ref ...more
I wanted to like this. I loved the cover. It’s a Gothic mystery, which I normally enjoy, but somehow this one was a struggle. Not sure whether it was too long (it is 500+ pages and probably could do with some further editing), or whether I was comparing it unfavourably with The Distant Hours by Kate Morton which it was similar to in some respects, or whether it was just wrong book/wrong time, but it just wasn’t doing it for me. It was eye-rollingly predictable at times, however it did improve a ...more
Susan Angela Wallace
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The shadow hour by Kate Riordon.
Two generations of women, and one house that holds the terrible secrets of their pasts 1922. Grace has been sent to the stately and crumbling Fenix House to follow in her grandmother's footsteps as a governess. But when she meets the house's inhabitants, people who she had only previously heard of in stories, the cracks in her grandmother's tale begin to show. Secrets appear to live in the house's very walls and everybody is resolutely protecting their own. Why h
The year is 1922 when Grace Fairford leaves the comfort of the home she has known in Bristol with her grandmother, to begin her life as a governess at Fenix House. It is a place she knows well, having grown up on stories of her own grandmother's time there in 1878, also as a governess. Yet the Fenix House that awaits Grace is a far cry from the immaculately kept estate of her grandmother's stories, sadly fallen into a state of neglect and disarray. There are other anomalies too though, facts tha ...more
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Review originally posted on Wonderfully Bookish.

I haven’t read a book like The Shadow Hour for years. It was reminiscent of books like Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki and After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell in the sense that the whole story is told with switching perspectives spanning several decades. It is split into two different perspectives: Harriet in the 1870s, and Harriet’s granddaughter Grace in the 1920s.

In the 1870s Harriet goes to work at Fenix House as a governess to two children. Si
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The plot of this novel instantly appealed to me - I'm a sucker for a crumbling ancestral home full of secrets. The governess theme invariably draws comparisons with Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre - a novel which is actually referenced a number of times throughout the course of the book - but Fenix House hides far more than a mad wife in the attic.

Dual narrative plots don't always work for me, but this one drew me right in and it's tricky to say whose narrative I preferred - just as I was getting i
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Shadow Hour works to highlight how I should step outside of my comfort zone more often.

I enjoy a good historical fiction, yet I do not go out of my way to pick up such books. I’m more likely to pick up a crime thriller or a fantasy read. If a friend or relative offers me a historical fiction to read, I will go through with it – but they’re not the kinds of books I actively seek out in bookstores. The Shadow Hour came into my possession through winning a Goodreads giveaway. My friend had ente
Karen Mace
Feb 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, e-books
I received a copy of this via NetGalley in return for a fair and honest review.

With such a striking cover, this book is very quick at drawing in the reader with its' intriguing opening featuring a train crash, and how that could be such a link in this story.

It centres around Fenix House and we visit the house in 1922 when Grace ends up there as a governess to work for the Pembridge Family who are looking for help with their 7 year old boy Lucas who has many problems and rarely leaves his room. G
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
A wonderfully atmospheric, split time span story. Lots of well paced, cleverly woven intrigue and full bodied characterisation creates a well rounded, satisfying read. Reminded me very much of Kate Moreton' s style of writing. Would highly recommend.
Juli Rahel
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Governesses, you say? Mysterious houses and sullen employers? Where do I sign up?! That was basically my thought process when I saw The Shadow Hour. Ever since reading Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey, I have a Bronte-inspired love for novels about governesses. They are the perfect vehicles for authors to explore family relations, class difference and bring in some supernatural or mysterious tones. However, not every novel strikes that perfect balance. So while I happily delved into The Shadow Hour, I f ...more
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-favorites
Absorbed this book through an audio file. Through a very confusing and long-dragged beginning it ended up to be better and better. In the end I was absolutely intrigued and couldn't stop listening to it. With an end that made tears leak out of my eyes it was an absolute success for the beginning of my 2018 reading year.
Meri Uzer
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Predictable and boring, also it took far too long to get to the forgone conclusion which was the end. I kept hoping something exciting was going to happen so I kept turning each page but alas nothing. Very disappointing read so don’t bother
Aug 25, 2018 rated it liked it
I would've given this 4 stars as the plot moves along nicely, the characters are fairly interesting, but then you get to the end and it just falls apart. No conclusion, Riordan sets particular plots in motion and then does nothing with them. One of the worst endings I've read.
Carol Sloan
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Found the quite boring. Was a hard push to finish.
Sandra McKenna
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stunning 5* read.

I only give a 5* review to a book that has me in it's grip from beginning to end, and this one certainly ticked all of the boxes.
A dual timeline (1878 and 1922) and set mainly in an old house in the country.
Grace applies for the position of Governess, and it is not until she is there that the links with her grandmother's past , gradually fall into place.
Full of wonderful characters, mystery and intrigue, lies and secrets.
So well written and researched by Kate Riordan; I loved
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who like historical fiction, with a sense of time and place
I found this to be a really enjoyable book.

I liked the concept of Harriet and her grand-daughter, Grace both being employed as governess at the same house. One in the 1870s, the other in the 1920s.

From the Prologue, I was drawn into the story. There is a lovely section which relates to stories not always having beginnings, middles and ends. Not all stories being regarded as a straight line. It ends with reference to this story being a circle. This had me intrigued, but by the end I still remembe
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it

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
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the historical aspect of this novel. told from Harriet's point of view and also her granddaughter, Grace's. The fact that it is set in my part of the world is an added bonus and fittingly I finished reading this book while on the same train journey that is at the crux of the story. The two narratives worked well but I found the number of characters and the obvious ageing that had taken place initially confusing. Whilst the two narratives worked well I didn't think that the use of lette ...more
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Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist from England. Her first job was as an editorial assistant at the Guardian newspaper, followed by a stint as deputy editor for the lifestyle section of London bible, Time Out magazine.

After becoming a freelancer, she left London behind and moved to the beautiful Cotswolds in order to write her first novel, 'Birdcage Walk'. Her second novel, a haunting dual na
“Oh, reading! There is something singularly unattractive about a woman reading a book, I always think. Hunched and squinting in a corner while everyone else is being sociable and amusing. And, of course, it ruins the posture and the eyesight.” 0 likes
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