Eighteen-year-old Emma has loving parents and a promising future ahead of her. So why, one morning, does she leave home without a trace?

Her parents, Cath and Jim, are devastated. They have no idea why Emma left, where she is – or even whether she is still alive. A year later, Cath and Jim are still tormented by the unanswered questions Emma left behind and clinging desperately to the hope of finding her.

#TheShadowChild #RachelHancox @centurybooksuk @PenguinUKBooks #RandomThingsTours @annecater @RandomTTours #blogtour

Meanwhile, tantalisingly close to home, Emma is also struggling with her new existence –
and with the trauma that shattered her life.


For all of them, reconciliation seems an impossible dream. Does the way forward lie in facing up to the secrets of the past – secrets that have been hidden for years? Secrets that have the power to heal them, or to destroy their family forever.

The Shadow Child is a book of hope and reconciliation, of coming to terms with trauma and learning to love again. Most of all, it’s about how you can never quite escape from the shadows of your past – especially when one of those shadows is a child …

My Review

This is a story about loss and love, guilt, grief and secrets. And reconciliation.

It’s the story of an ordinary couple – Cath and Jim – and the teenage daughter who walked out one day and never came back. I can’t imagine what that must be like, the uncertainty, the not knowing.

Emma had a twin called Rose. We know something bad happened to her, but it takes a while before we discover the whole story.

A year after Emma disappeared, Cath and Jim have bought a cottage. It’s ideal to rent out, they just need to find the perfect tenants. And they do – in Nick and Lara, a young married couple for whom life seems idyllic. But one of them has a secret that lies so deeply buried, it is in danger of tearing everything apart.

My favourite part of the book is when we hear from Emma’s point of view. Her reasons for running away stem from guilt, rather than anger. It was heartbreaking. Her room-mate Jeannie also has her own secrets and her story is one of the saddest of all.

I deeply sympathised with all the characters, apart from Jim. While it’s no surprise that he lies about something he’s done (no spoilers), I could not understand why he lies about certain other things, or rather he decides not to tell Cath. In fact everything he does could break Cath’s heart all over again. Poor Cath. She doesn’t deserve the hurt inflicted upon her.

You’ll need plenty of tissues towards the end. I certainly did, but what a wonderful, heartfelt book that all mothers will be able to identify with.

Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours

About the Author

RACHEL HANCOX read Medicine and Social and Political Science at Cambridge, qualified as a doctor three months after getting married, and has juggled her family, her career and a passion for writing ever since. She worked in Paediatrics and Public Health for twenty years, writing short stories alongside NHS policy reports, and drafting novels during successive bouts of maternity leave. Rachel has five children, three dogs and a cat. She lives in Oxford with her husband and youngest children.

1 Comment on “The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

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