People who disappeared left cast-off shadows of themselves, murky tremblings that slunk out of corners on drizzly autumn afternoons. They lurked offstage, silent or sighing or reaching out to run a finger across her arm. They were the curtains fluttering in the window on a breezeless morning, the musty scent that arose when opening an abandoned cellar door. (from Let the Shadows Fall Behind You, page 13)
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading Let the Shadows Fall Behind You. Is it a murder mystery? Is it a coming-of-age story? I was pulled into the story from the first page by Kathy-Diane Leveille's beautiful writing, and I never knew where she was taking me. There were many twists and turns in this story, but I was happy to go along for the ride.
Leveille tells the story of Brannagh Maloney, a woman with a tortured past involving the disappearance of her father, the murder of her mother, and an abusive grandfather, among other things. The book opens in northern Ontario in 1970. Brannagh is on a bird counting expedition in the wilderness and has fallen in love with Nikki, the leader of the research project. When Nikki leaves one day without a trace, she worries that something bad has happened to him, and these fears prompt her to return home.
She reunites with her childhood friends, Annie, Tish, and Dianne, and it's obvious that Brannagh's ties to these women have fractured over the years. She realizes that she needs to face her past head on, confront the evasive Annie, and learn the truth about the murders that happened so many years before. Brannagh is haunted by her past, haunted by all the disappearances she's had to endure, and Leveille does a wonderful job making you actually feel Brannagh's pain.
There's a lot going on in Let the Shadows Fall Behind You, as Leveille shows Brannagh in the present trying to figure out what happened to Nikki; goes back to Brannagh's childhood, introducing readers to her eccentric grandmother and Aunt Thelma and the hardships she endured after her mother walked out of their lives; and walks readers through her entire relationship with Nikki and his equally tortured past. At first all the movement from past to present was a bit confusing, but by the time I finished the book, I felt that the structure of the story worked well. And Leveille is brilliant when it comes to building suspense. She drops little bombs, then waits several pages to spell it all out, which had me burning through the pages like crazy to find out what happens.
I also was captivated by the characters. I honestly didn't like any of them when I first started reading, but they were well developed, and by the end of the book I felt I had a better understanding of who they really were and what made them act the way they did. The characters are not who you think they are, and I liked that my feelings for them were all over the place.
Leveille expertly plays with your emotions and really gets you thinking about the bonds of family, friendships, and lovers. Let the Shadows Fall Behind You is a well-written, complex story about coming to terms with the past so that you can look forward to the future. If you're looking for a story about relationships with a little mystery and suspense thrown in, then give this one a try.
Let the Shadows Fall Behind You also was reviewed by:
A Reader's Respite
Cheryl's Book Nook
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Disclosure: I received a free copy of Let The Shadows Fall Behind You from the author for review purposes.