To the Edge of Shadows by Joanne Graham
‘I hadn’t planned things the way they happened… I didn’t think it would end with her walking out of the night, bleeding and afraid.’
Joanne Graham’s debut novel, Lacey’s House, won the Luke Bitmead Bursary in 2012. Similarly to her first book, which tells the story of two very separate yet intertwined women, her newest novel, To the Edge of Shadows, is told from the perspective of two unique, but intrinsically linked women.
When Sarah first wakes up in hospital following a brutal car accident, she is fourteen and afraid – as the years pass, Sarah grows older but no less frightened. With the help of her Aunt Leah, she must learn to live in a world she finds threatening, counting steps from one place to another and refusing to stray from the paths she knows so well.
Adding to Sarah’s troubles is Ellie Wilson, a girl with a troubled past who watches intently, envious of Sarah’s inability to remember her own childhood. As Ellie’s fixation with Sarah grows, Sarah’s world becomes all the more frightening, pushing her finally to seek help. Graham’s skilful exploration of the mind, of memory and of the uncharted territory of the brain is central to the stories of both Sarah and Ellie.
Short chapters keep the reader hooked, while different fonts separate Sarah’s narrative from Ellie’s. Their voices are, however, so distinctly different, that knowing who is speaking is easy. Despite her obsession with Sarah, and the attention which at times becomes malice, Ellie earns our sympathy from the offset. Even when we don’t like or agree with her motives, Ellie remains a much more stimulating and interesting character than the withdrawn Sarah. ‘I like to think that I am not cold-hearted enough to hurt her in the way that I have. Yet I think in some ways I am that callous, I am that cruel.’
The text is beautifully written, with delicate descriptions and imagery fluttering throughout – Graham is particularly fond of bird metaphors. Her novel explores the unseen, the unknown and the power of the mind. It’s a book about absence, a book about shadows. Available to buy on the 31st of October, this is the perfect read for a chilly Autumn night.