The House of Shadows (UK) / Into the Darkness (US)

Written by Kate Williams
Review by Ann Northfield

This is the third part of the De Witt family saga, the previous two installments being The Storms of War and The Edge of the Fall. It is now 1929 for this half-German, half-English family. Issues of nationality have caused and continue to remain a significant problem for the family in this era for obvious reasons. Coming to the characters later, without having read the earlier novels, did cause difficulties, however, as vital events were often referred to but not really explained for a new reader. Motivations for different characters were also unclear and thus became somewhat unrealistic as the reasons for these actions were embedded in the past – and the previous books.

The novel generally follows a chronological pattern and we jump from one key event to another. Emotions are often high with much lip-biting, storms of tears and being devastated. The historical flavour comes through with references to flappers, social mores and events such as the Wall Street Crash which directly impacts on Celia, her family and her business. The family business is meat, but this is not proving to be a success, so Celia comes up with an early prototype of convenience foods aimed at the modern working woman. This is a solid pot-boiler in the vein of Barbara Taylor Bradford or Nora Roberts and will satisfy its target audience, but the books should be read in order to avoid missing important plot points.