The Stranger by Kate Riordan

the Stranger HB jacket

My enormous thanks to Jenny Platt at Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of The Stranger by Kate Riordan in return for an honest review and for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations for this wonderful read.

Published on 22nd March 2018 by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin, The Stranger is available for purchase here.

The Stranger

the Stranger HB jacket

Cornwall, 1940.

In the hushed hours of the night a woman is taken by the sea.

Was it a tragic accident? Or should the residents of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in?

In the midst of war three women arrive seeking safety at Penhallow Hall.

Each is looking to escape her past.

But one of them is not there by choice.

As the threat of invasion mounts and the nightly blackouts feel longer and longer, tensions between the close-knit residents rise until dark secrets start to surface.

And no one can predict what their neighbour is capable of . . .

In a house full of strangers, who do you trust?

My Review of The Stranger

Three new landgirls at Penhallow Hall will find their lives changed for ever.

Oh my goodness me. What a book! I adored every word of The Stranger. It was like reading a modern day Daphne du Maurier, but for me, so much better. The quality of the poetic and beautiful writing is gorgeous. Kate Riordan has the ability to create a tangible sense of foreboding that permeates the reader’s skin, giving them goosebumps. There’s a fabulous use of pathetic fallacy so that the weather, the sea and Cornwall all become inextricably woven into the narrative making reading The Stranger visual and filmic. The absolute power of place is deftly and convincingly created, with an oppressive, self destructive and menacing atmosphere crackling like an approaching storm that I found utterly compelling.

There’s a preternatural evil and claustrophobia lurking around Penhallow Hall making a tragedy an inevitability. Ghostly echoes of the past weave in and out of the narrative, tantalising the reader and making it impossible for me to pull myself away from the book. The plot is a cracker too. I was sucked into the story as if I were a character myself.

Speaking of characters, Diana is a magnificent creation. Kate Riordan uses the perfect voice for Diana’s first person diary accounts so that I loathed her entirely for the first hundred pages of the book. Diana created a visceral and physical response in me that quite shocked me by the violence I felt towards her. It’s a terrible thing to say but I wanted her dead because of her tainting and corrupting effect. I found her a far more malevolent person than the controlling Mrs Fox. However, as the book progressed I came to understand, pity, and even respect Diana and this is such skilled writing by Kate Riordan to be able to effect such a change of opinion.

There are so many layers to The Stranger too. Not only is it a love story, a mystery and in many ways an homage to other literature through subtle reference, but it explores so many fabulous themes. Oppressed and suppressed sexuality, relationships, the nature of good and evil, the present and the past, identity and the basic human need to be loved and accepted without which we all become the stranger, all reverberate through the story giving it a brilliant depth and making it oh so satisfying to read.

In case you hadn’t gathered, I loved The Stranger. It is one of those books that will stay with me a very long time. Wonderful.

About Kate Riordan


Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist. She is an avid reader of Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie, both of whom inspired her first two novels, The Girl in the Photograph and The Shadow Hour. She lives in the Cotswolds, where she writes full-time. The Stranger is her latest book.

You an follow Kate on Twitter @KateRiordanUK, visit her website and find her on Facebook.

There’s more with thse other bloggers too:

The Stranger blog tour

14 thoughts on “The Stranger by Kate Riordan

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