Shadows of the Past by Carmen Stefanescu

Shadows of the Past by Carmen Stefanescu(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

When Anne and Neil leave on a one-week holiday hoping to reconcile after a two-year separation, little do they know that destiny has other plans for them. Their discovery of human bones and a bejeweled cross in the hollow of a tree open the door to the supernatural realm and the anguished life of Genevieve, a nun from medieval England.

Can Anne save her relationship and help Genevieve her eternal rest?

The twists and turns in this paranormal tale keep the reader guessing up to the end and weave themselves together into a quest to rekindle love.

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

For me, this book was pretty average.  The plot was fast-paced, the premise interesting if not entirely unique and it was generally well-written.  The characters were well-developed as well.  The main problem I had with this one, however, was the dialogue.

The dialogue was pretty bad.  Everyone states exactly what they’re thinking, feeling and what their situation is in perfect English.  It’s just not realistic to say something like, “Gerard, I feel that our present situation is intolerable.  We are stuck in an automobile in the middle of nowhere in the Rocky Mountains.  I am cold and by the expression on your face and your shivers I can tell that you are as well.”  That’s my own example, but most examples of dialogue (even for the modern characters) in this book were similar and usually much longer.

Other than the dialogue, this book was fairly well-written.  I quite enjoyed the plot with all of the flashbacks to Genevieve’s life in the abbey and the premonitions of Anne in the modern day.  The descriptions were vivid and the little details are what really made the story.  I won’t speak to the historical accuracy because I don’t know enough about the period, but Shadows of the Past certainly made me feel like I was back in Medieval England.

The character development was very good.  I enjoyed Genevieve’s transformation from brow-beaten girl to happy nun to a discontent young woman yearning for love.  I also liked Anne’s slow forgiveness of Neil for his transgressions.  She didn’t forgive him right away but through their trip in the mountains they bonded at a natural rate.  I personally would never have forgiven Neil but I’m glad that the two eventually made up and solved the mystery of Genevieve’s tragic death.  The novel was more character driven than most but one thing I would have liked to see was more of a spin on the past life trope.  It would have been nice to have some sort of twist but Carmen Stefanescu played this trope straight.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing in this case but it would have been nice if the ending hadn’t been so predictable.

So overall, despite my dislike of the dialogue I actually quite enjoyed Shadows of the Past and if it sounds interesting to you I’d definitely recommend it.

I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

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