Hidden Shadow by Jennifer Bourland – Book Review

What is a good mystery without a good cliffhanger? If you are an ardent reader of mystery, cliffhangers hold an ambivalence you can’t seem to escape. This is what Jennifer Bourland brings to us with her book Hidden Shadow. The book revolves around the revelation of a secret that took place 100 years ago in the middle of the famous American Prohibition (1920-1933), compelling the readers to turn into a detective to uncover the past. The author provides the readers with an opening to the story in the form of a revenge by Macie Brooks on her two friends whom she is suspicious of after hearing a conversation. Macie ensures utmost caution while conducting her revenge plan but fails to notice a witness to her actions. Eventually, the once famous speakeasy- Blue Owl, which she co-owned with her two business partners is established as a spooky place full of mysteries and paranormal activities.

Hidden Shadow - Jennifer Bourland

Sophie Thomas, the main lead of the novel, is a highly relatable character. From her hardworking nature to make the ends meet to her curious behavior throughout the book, it is not hard for the viewers to connect with her personality. The connection with the public is established by mentioning various instances of casual activities the protagonist does on daily basis. From going to swim in order to calm herself to ordering a simple meal in order to fit her budget, Sophie’s character is made to seem familiar to everyone who reads it. An eerie atmosphere across the storyline can be experienced. The instances can be taken from the dreams Sophie has to the sounds she hears when she inherits the building of Blue Owl from one of her clients Ezra Stone. The plot focuses on how the subconscious of Sophie, a psychologist, is disturbed by a woman in her dreams, who constantly asks her about finding a key. The author very smoothly keeps on shifting the scenario from the past to the present, drawing the audience in by mere glimpses of the history behind the decline of the Speakeasy.

Even though the book starts on a very light note of a party going on, it does not take much time to jump right into the emphasized part of the chain of events. Everything happening in Sophie’s life leads her in the end to the haunted place she now has to call her new home. With the sudden responsibility of a new place on her shoulders, Sophie is expected to manage not only her future but also unravel the mystery of the Indigo Room. The fellow characters help her in discovering the reality behind the event that had occurred in the cellar. Jamieson Brooks, a man related to one of the owners of the Speakeasy, provided a great deal of information about the three friends and the ghost known to be present in the building. He also helped Sophie finding out who the lady in her dreams was by showing her pictures from the year 1929. Harlan Reed, an enthusiast of the Prohibition era, played a key role in connecting the dots of the story by recognizing Sophie to be from the lineage of Roselyn Mackenzie, a co-owner of the Blue Owl. Justin Knight, the love interest of Sophie, is yet another person who supports her in discovering the truth behind everything. His daughter, Charlotte, also plays an interesting role as she is the first one to actually be able to see the famous ghost of the estate.

The title of the book is what grasps the attention of the reader in one go. It is interesting to note that the writer might be referring to Hazel as hidden shadow while Macie was thrashing alcohol bottles in the cellar or how for Sophie hidden shadow could be that of her great grandmother Roselyn Makenzie. Adding to the explanation, we may also assume “hidden shadow” to hold a symbolic meaning. Shadow referring to the gloominess that shadowed the history of the Indigo room and how it had been hidden for a century. Each founding member carried the burden of the accident that took place in the cellar in their own manner. This was revealed through the letter Eddie Stone, the last owner of the speakeasy, had left behind. The key always mentioned in Sophie’s dreams also creates a pattern to the figurative discovery of hidden shadow lingering around.

The story is precise when it comes to detailing thus creating a vivid visual representation of the scenes that are taking place. The essence of these details is felt in the way various emotions are expressed by different characters in varied situations. Jade, a client of Sophie’s, is a perfect example of this as you will fall in love with how realistically she expresses her emotions through her drawings in art therapy sessions. The meticulous nature of the art makes a fellow patient also resonate with the emotions expressed. The book has constant elements of surprise that firmly holds the attention of the readers and leaves them guessing on what next to expect. With the great writing style, there remains the fact that there are still some spaces left for the writer to fill. There are questions that remain in the minds of the readers like what exactly was Macie seeking revenge for, why did Ezra not reveal anything to Sophie, or was he even aware of her connection to Roselyn? This remains a disadvantage to the readers as all details about the mystery are not clarified and leave a sense of slight confusion behind.

Jennifer Bourland though must be given due credit for her descriptive way of writing. Be it her intricate way of introducing characters or mentioning details of various settings the scene is taking place in, she does full justice to the book. Her ability to accommodate subtle humor and jabs of sarcasm in instances of suspense brings a sense of relief for the readers, creating a calming atmosphere along with keeping the curiosity intact. Hidden Shadow allows the readers to understand how well the writer creates great build ups to events of mysteries, hence expanding their inquisitiveness. If you are someone who likes to be challenged at every point of the story, this book will not disappoint you, from its story line to the characters, it has all grounds covered.

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Aazima is a passionate individual who loves to explore various genres of literature, with psychological thrillers and light comedies being her all-time favorites. When she's not indulging in reading, she enjoys watching cricket, one of her other passions.