After the Shadows (Book Review)

  • Author: Amanda Cabot
  • Publisher: Revell
  • Available Now!
  • Synopsis: Recently widowed Emily Leland returns to her home in Saltwater Creek, the same day her father passes away. As she seeks to learn what really happened on his final day, she forges strong friendships with the new boarders in the large family home, including school teacher Craig Ferguson.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publishers. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection

This is an instance where I don’t see a strong Scripture connection, so I’m not going to force it.

Spiritual Themes

Spiritual content was fairly light in this novel, but one stronger theme was the dignity of each person in God’s sight. One of the characters, Beulah, has special needs, and most people stay clear of her. Protagonist Emily encourages others to remember that God made every person in His image. I did really appreciate that Cabot decided to explore the treatment of people with special needs, during this time period.

There are also scattered references to faith, throughout. For instance, we learn that Emily’s father, a minister, encouraged people to rejoice in each new day, because God made it. There’s also a mention of beauty on this earth pointing people toward eternal beauty.

What I Liked

I enjoyed the combination of historical fiction with a mystery/suspense element. This is a genre I have only recently been acquainted with, and I like how the blend of genres brings intrigue to the story.

The boardinghouse setting was interesting and unique. While I have occasionally read stories with guests/boarders, I’m not accustomed to stories from the perspective of the hostess. This was a fun premise for a romance, too. Plus, I enjoy reading about big houses.

I liked meeting some of the secondary characters: Mrs. Carmichael and Gertrude. Mrs. Carmichael is a neat woman who demonstrates notable fortitude and courage, and I thought it was fun that she met with her friends on a weekly basis.

I enjoyed reading about Gertrude. Although I found her to be rather unlikable at times, it was fun to watch Emily becoming friends with her former school teacher. This is another thing I don’t usually get to read about, but it certainly makes sense, since Gertrude isn’t much older than Emily.

Content Notes

While the romance is “clean,” in terms of physicality, the book does propound the lie that one person can “complete” another (It’s explicitly stated, toward the end. Plus, there’s a line about one person being a bulwark to another, albeit this is referring to a single week of time).

There are a number of references to domestic abuse, but nothing graphic.

There are a few somewhat racist comments about the importance of fair skin or blonde hair and blue eyes. While the latter is addressed to some extent, the former is not. However, both of these, unfortunately, make sense in the historical context.

Respectful Discussion

After the Shadows took me a bit longer to “get into,” but when I was able to finally read for an extended period of time, I definitely wanted to keep reading and find out what happened next. I think the mystery was my favorite part of the story, and it definitely felt light at points. However, that is certainly a personal preference, on my part. I do know this book has received strong literary acclaim.

Ultimately, the four-star rating is based on the thematic content, in terms of the romance, as well as the fact that the book moved a bit slowly, for me.

Recommendation Status

Blending historical fiction with mystery and romance, After the Shadows is an intriguing and overall engaging novel. I would recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction, although my personal preference is a stronger mystery emphasis.

Published by Stephaniesninthsuitcase

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

4 thoughts on “After the Shadows (Book Review)

      1. Thanks. 😃 What’s funny is I have some books on my tbr list, like this one that I can’t get to because of all the blog tours I’ve signed up for. Eventually I’ll get to them . Now don’t get me wrong I am enjoying my blog tour books 📚😂.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh I’ve been experiencing that a lot lately, too! A number of books I grabbed on a bargain (thrift store/library books) and take a long time to get to. Happily, I finished two this week! (But I don’t review them unless they really strike me. I like to have them as a little break)


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