I was so delighted to discover Thorne Moore’s lovely writing last year when I read and reviewed the thoroughly excellent The Unravelling – you’ll find my review here. I’m ashamed to admit that I still haven’t managed to get round to reading Thorne’s other novels – A Time For Silence and Motherlove – but it’s a real pleasure to bring news of her new release. Shadows was published by Endeavour Press – initially for kindle – on 14th June, and it has the most wonderful description I found totally impossible to resist…
Kate Lawrence can sense the shadow of violent death, past and present. In her struggle to cope with her unwelcome gift, she has frozen people out of her life. Her marriage is on the rocks, her career is in chaos and she urgently needs to get a grip.
So she decides to start again, by joining her effervescent cousin Sylvia and partner Michael in their mission to restore and revitalise Llys y Garn, an old mansion in the wilds of North Pembrokeshire.
It is certainly a new start, as she takes on Sylvia’s grandiose schemes, but it brings Kate to a place that is thick with the shadows of past deaths.
The house and grounds are full of mysteries that only she can sense, but she is determined to face them down – so determined that she fails to notice that ancient energies are not the only shadows threatening the seemingly idyllic world of Llys y Garn.
The happy equilibrium is disrupted by the arrival of Sylvia’s sadistic and manipulative son, Christian – but just how dangerous is he? Then, once more, Kate senses that a violent death has occurred…
Set in the majestic and magical Welsh countryside, Shadows is a haunting exploration of the dark side of people and landscape.
I’ll be sharing my thoughts when I read it in August, but until then, it’s a real pleasure to welcome Thorne Moore as my guest on Being Anne, to tell us more…
My latest novel, Shadows, is out now and I am intrigued to find that it is listed, among other things, as “occult.” Intrigued and startled. I have always written books in a similar vein, delighted with the definition Domestic Noir, which is wonderfully all-embracing. At least it embraces crime, psychological mystery, family drama and angst-filled relationships. I am interested in examining what impact a trauma like serious crime has on individuals, rather than forensically examining a trail of clues, and I would say that that Shadows fitted in perfectly with my other books. It’s about relationships, it’s about lives affected by crime – it’s domestic noir. But yes, it does have one element that allows it to slip into the “paranormal” category. My character, Kate, can feel things. Her shadows.
I set the book in the depths of North Pembrokeshire, in a house whose history goes back centuries and whose walls and grounds must have seen many forgotten tragedies. A place where ancient history lies just under the surface and even the most phlegmatic of people would find themselves imagining that memories of dark deeds are lurking behind every creaking door. If Kate’s shadows could be real, this is where you’d find them. (Besides, I’ll take any excuse to write about North Pembrokeshire.)
There are no ghosts, no restless spirits, no evil demons or Satanic practices in the book. There’s just Kate, convinced she shares the emotional turmoil of other people’s violent deaths. And the point of that was my wish to examine what such a “gift” would do to a person.
The idea of Shadows was triggered when I briefly caught a programme, many years ago, while flicking through channels late at night. It was a programme in which a very sceptical team investigated supposedly haunted houses. Sceptical so that they could maintain their ironic street cred, but willing to play up the drama for the sake of good TV. In this programme, they had brought in a local psychic, who assured them in a very matter-of-fact way that, yes, there was a restless spirit in the house but it was all right, it wasn’t malign and she would just have a word with it and put it to rest. She sounded remarkably like Black Adder’s Mrs Miggins, and she spoke as if having a word with a restless spirit was akin to putting the bins out.
It occurred to me that if I could sense restless spirits when others couldn’t, if I were permanently tuned in to spirits or feelings or visions or voices that were entirely unsuspected by everyone around me, I wouldn’t be matter-of-fact about it. I wouldn’t sound at all like Mrs Miggins. I would be a screaming wreck, clinging to sanity by my fingertips. So I decided to write about a woman in just that situation.
I had one small problem. I am the high priestess of scepticism. I don’t believe in ghosts, restless spirits, evil demons or poltergeists. I tend to look for a logical explanation of everything slightly weird. So I had to come up with something paranormal-ish that I could live with, and even quietly explain away to myself. We are highly charged beings. Our nervous systems are full of synapses whizzing electrical messages back and forth. Would it be entirely fanciful to suppose that moments of extreme emotion (such as one might reasonably feel when facing brutal death) could generate a charge strong enough to earth itself in the fabric of a building or to communicate itself to another person’s nervous system in some telepathic way that has not yet been explained?
I could, very nearly, accept that. And just for extra reassurance, I allow a character with a scientific outlook to provide an alternative explanation for Kate’s apparently psychic ability. Subconscious instinct.
What matters, of course, is not whether her psychic powers are real or imagined, but what they do to her. How would you react to someone who tells you they can sense mysterious shadows hidden from everyone else? Kate learns from a very early age that there are three possible reactions. A). You’ll think she’s a self-delusional basket case, who could probably do with some psychiatric help. B) You’ll dismiss her as a lying, attention-seeking charlatan, probably trying to trick money out of gullible people, or C) You’ll hope that it’s true, and that she has some mystical ability to put you in touch with someone you have desperately loved and lost.
Kate can’t cope with any of these reactions, so she has learned to keep quiet, say nothing to anyone and hide her reactions to the point where she has become emotionally frigid. Can she ever learn to unfreeze?
This is the paranormal element of Shadows, so slightly paranormal Domestic Noir, yes. But occult? No.
And that looks just perfect to me Thorne! I’m very much looking forward to this one… my thanks to Endeavour Press for my reading copy.
About the author
Thorne Moore was born in Luton but has lived in in the back of beyond in North Pembrokeshire for 32 years. She has degrees in History and Law, worked in a library and ran a family restaurant as well as a miniature furniture craft business, which is still in production, but she now concentrates on writing psychological crime mysteries.
Thorne has an excellent website and blog, and can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.