Author: Jenn J McLeod
I have only heard good things about the Seasons Collection and Jenn’s debut House of all Seasons was one of our book club reads, one I unfortunately didn’t read but have got on my towering TBR to get to. After having read Season of Shadow and Light I am even more determined to go back and read the first two in the collection.
Season of Shadow and Light is a complex story filled with secrets which make for some intense mystery that kept me guessing, some of those guesses made room for some hairy situations had they come to pass. It is a story of family, of trust, of betrayal and most of all of healing. I loved it from the very first page to the very last.
We have multiple story tellers, three for the most part but then an extra joins the ranks late in the piece, for a broad perspective and a much more insightful story. This method allowed us to see deep inside the story, and understand motivations that we may not have otherwise while driving the mystery and sustaining suspense. Yes, there were some predictable outcomes but there were some that took quite a bit of working out and many is it or isn’t it moments all the while ensuring that not all the questions were answered.
Paige Turner has given herself a time out from her life and packed up her 6 year old daughter Matilda for a road trip. Perhaps a little rash, not completely thought out, but something she felt she had to do and when Alice couldn’t talk her out of it she decided to tag along. The plan was to head to small town Saddleton with some half baked idea to find out a little more about her history because she knows very little about her mothers roots.
The dynamics in Season of Shadow and Light are not so much new but not often explored, it is becoming much more common now but this was a family dynamic that I was new to in literature. Paige grew up with two mothers in a time that it was far from common, and even further from socially acceptable so the fact that her history goes back no further than her birth is not that hard to understand. Nancy was Paige’s birth mother, who passed away when she was a child, and Alice was her partner. After Nancy’s death Alice took on the role as Paige’s mother and that made life a little simpler.
The timeline jumps around a little which I did have trouble following at times because the characters seemed to wander off into their memories without notice, totally sidetracking a scene and there were times I wasn’t quite sure if we ended up getting to the end of the scene in the present because we got so caught up in the past. Except for the fact that it confused me at times this helped to drive the story because so much was rooted in the history of these characters.
The last couple of years haven’t been kind to Paige; after marrying her first love and thinking she had it all they pursued their career goals and then started working on their family. Robert Turner dotes on his darling Matilda but not so much on his wife anymore. Paige suffered the loss of a baby and then a post partum stroke which stole her sense of taste and smell, which in turn robbed her of her dream job as a professional food reviewer. The relationship between Paige and Robert is already strained but then news of a major betrayal comes to light and Paige’s wobbly personal life starts to topple. The perfect excuse to set off in search of Saddleton and information about a young Nancy.
Circumstance sees them land in Coolabah Tree Gully, not far from Saddleton but a world away from the life she’s always known. A place she finds a sense of peace, an affinity for horses she was previously unaware of and a simple country life experience for Matilda.
McLeod deftly explores same sex unions in a time when ‘that sort of lifestyle choice needs to be hidden for the benefit of the family’s reputation’. There are other things I would like to mention but in the interest of keeping this spoiler free I’m not sure what I should or shouldn’t say.
Trust and betrayal are huge themes in Season of Shadow and Light and they are portrayed from all angles, highlighting the shades of grey and absence of black and white. There are many forms of betrayal and a million ways for a trust to be broken. Where do you draw the line between betrayal and protecting your loved ones?
Season of Shadow and Light captures the head, the heart and the soul with it’s exploration of the importance in contrast. There can be no shadow without light, every yin needs its yang, and the choice is always there to love and heal, to grow and forgive as it is to fester in hate and bitterness. A fantastic introduction to Jenn J McLeod for me and a reading relationship I intend to fully explore.
Season of Shadow and Light is book #22 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge.
You can find Season of Shadow and Light in all good bookstores now, and at Simon & Schuster.
I devour books, vampires and supernatural creatures are my genre of choice but over the past couple of years, I have broadened my horizons considerably. In a nutshell – I love to write! I love interacting with a diverse range of artists to bring you interviews. Perhaps we were perfect before – I LOVE WORDS!