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The Darkening Hour [Kindle Edition]

Penny Hancock
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

Meet Theodora
And Mona
Two women, from completely different walks of life, forced by circumstances to live together under one roof.
Both women are at their wits' end, scared of losing the one thing that's most precious to them. So when tensions boil over, who will go to the most extreme lengths to survive?
Will it be Theodora, finally breaking under the pressure?
Or Mona, desperate to find a way out?
In a tale of modern day slavery and paranoia, two women tell their sides of the story.
Who do you trust?
'The author skilfully plays with [the two narrators'] versions of reality as this dark and brooding novel races towards its genuinely scary conclusion' Sunday Mirror
'Penny Hancock cranks up the tension in The Darkening Hour so when a murder is committed we don't know who to believe. This thriller about a stressed-out radio presenter who demands more and more from her elderly father's put-upon carer is frighteningly plausible' Thriller of the Month, Good Housekeeping
Praise for Penny Hancock and Tideline:
'Brilliantly written and totally gripping. I loved it' S J Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep
'A sparklingly creepy debut thriller with the most brilliant premise' Daily Mirror
'This creepy, well-written debut is reminiscent of John Fowles's The Collector, but with the genders reversed' Guardian
'Incredibly descriptive and chilling all at once, this thriller is an accomplished debut from Penny Hancock' Star

Product Description


Hancock gives us another dark, compelling story which is rich in London atmosphere and convincing psychological insights. The story cuts to the heart of our middle-class preoccupations and shows how warped our human values can become when insecurity sets in. The plot twists and turns between the viewpoints of Moroccan maid Mona, and her employer Dora. It soon becomes clear that this not just a battle between two different cultures, or between rich and poor. The two women are engaged in a battle between life and death. The story is wholly convincing from page one, right to its disturbing conclusion. --Kate Rhodes author of Crossbones Yard

'Brilliantly written and totally gripping. I loved it' --S J Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep

'An impressive debut from a writer we're certain to hear more about . . . Beautifully worked and with a sharp eye for the menace in the commonplace' --Daily Mail

About the Author

After several years in London, Penny Hancock now lives in Cambridge with her husband and three children. She is a part-time primary school teacher at a speech and language school and has travelled extensively as a language teacher. Her debut novel, Tideline, was a Richard & Judy Bookclub pick.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 829 KB
  • Print Length: 417 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1471111245
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (29 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007IL4YDS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,081 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Destructive Power of Passive Aggression 24 Aug. 2013
By Ms T
With a brilliant Dickensian introduction, the narrator leads you into the lives of domestic worker Mona, Charles, the elderly man she cares for, and his daughter Dora who employs her. The relationship between the two women starts with good intentions on both sides, but deteriorates as jealousy, envy and passive aggressive behaviour interfere. The affects of their respective pecking orders both in the household and the outside world, of loneliness, and of estrangement from their children damage the small attempts they initially make to form a more sympathetic relationship. Dora's short temper, insecurities and snobbery destroy it altogether.
The descriptions of Deptford and The Thames (a central character in this book as in Tideline) are atmospheric and engaging despite Dora's distaste for them. And it is fascinating that the violence in Hancock's books seems to happen almost by mistake, and is perpetrated by people who are not so different from normal, warped by circumstances we are led to understand.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Tale of Exploitation 30 Aug. 2013
No spoilers.

Penny Hancock's second novel 'The Darkening Hour' tells the story of the relationship between two women, from vastly difference social circumstances, who are thrown together through need and mutual dependency. Theodora (Dora) Gentleman lives in Deptford, in a faded, but genteel Georgian house, sharing her home with her elderly father, Charles, who is suffering from dementia, and her unemployed son, Leo. Dora works for a radio station, where her goal is to host a prime time programme with large listening figures, however she cannot focus sufficiently on her career because she is struggling to cope with caring for Charles, whose condition is clearly deteriorating. Enter Mona, who has come to England from Morocco, leaving behind her ailing mother and her young daughter, in order to earn money to send home for her mother's medical expenses and her daughter's education. Mona's employment has been organised by Dora's ex-husband, Roger, who has arranged for Mona to come to England on a visa stating that she is here for domestic purposes only, and Roger tells Dora that, in effect, Mona belongs to her - she cannot switch employers and if the job doesn't work out, Mona has to be sent straight home.

After some initial wariness on both sides, Dora begins to rely heavily on Mona, who not only cares for Charles, but also cooks beautifully, cleans the house from top to bottom, and even manages to rouse Leo from the sofa and out of the house. However, it is not long before Dora becomes resentful and jealous of the effect Mona has on everything and everyone around her, and when her beloved father (who, Dora tells us, has always preferred her over her siblings) shows that he would rather have Mona's company than his own daughter's, Dora's jealousy and resentfulness grows.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, kept wanting to read on 9 Jan. 2015
Format:Kindle Edition
I really enjoyed this, but I think it would have been a better novel if one of the two narrators hadn't been so awful! I found one of the two women so unlikeable from very early on that, although at times I thought the other one was possibly up to something that she hadn't let on to the reader, I didn't care if something bad did happen to the horrible one, in fact sometimes I found myself gloating at her misfortune, which is not something I would normally do! She is quite possibly suffering from some kind of mental disorder, so maybe I should have some sympathy with her, but she was so horrible that I just couldn't.

It is also a pity that most of the characters other than Mona and Theodora are not developed much at all, Theodora's siblings and Max for instance. Leo is an interesting character.

Penny Hancock should be commended on bringing the plight of domestic workers from overseas who apply to accompany their employer to the UK to a wide audience. Apparently these workers are not free to change employer; hence, as Hancock tells us at the end of the book, if they experience abuse and exploitation at the hands of their employer, they must choose between putting up with this and fleeing, thus becoming illegal.

This novel put me very much in mind of 'The Lie of You: I Will Have What is Mine' by Jane Lythell, in that there are two female narrators both telling their side of the story. Like Lythell's novel (which by the way I highly recommend), I felt that it became a bit overly-dramatic and implausible towards the end. It also called to mind 'Apple Tree Yard' by Louise Doughty (another great novel).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Tale Of Two Women. 9 Dec. 2013
By Liz Wilkins TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A middle class woman at her wits' end.
A struggling migrant worker with few options for survival.
When tensions boil over, who will be the first to snap?
Will it be Theodora, finally breaking under the pressure?
Or Mona, desperate to find a way out?

I do love a psychological thriller and this was a great one - for once I didnt spend the entire novel waiting for a huge twist in the tale or something completely unexpected (although there was plenty of unexpected things along the way!) because I was so immersed in the differing views of these two women on their relationship - it was fascinating how they reacted to each other and to events in the story.

Dora is absolutely full of a sense of her own importance - she takes on the care of her elderly father after the death of her mother, and I really disliked her holier than thou attitude about it all. Great! We love a character who makes us mad. On the other hand she does struggle to get any free time and it is a tough job so you can kind of feel sorry for her.

Enter Mona, a migrant worker hired by Dora's ex husband to help with the care of Dad. Mona has other reasons for wanting to be in the country - she is super efficient and soon has everything running smoothly. She is also not above helping herself to bits and pieces that don't belong to her, nor to ingratiating herself with Dora's son Leo.

Initially these two think that they are helping each other...but slowly yet surely the relationship between the pair falters.

The very clever thing about this novel was looking at each event through two pairs of eyes - neither of them are utterly faultless and both have a way of making things worse through assumption.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good, well written story.
Published 25 days ago by diana
4.0 out of 5 stars Want More
Brilliant and well written book but what happened to Dora? Was she found out? Did she pay for her crime? What about Mona, what became of her life? A small follow up book please.
Published 1 month ago by Tinkerbell
5.0 out of 5 stars Domestic slavery in 21st century UK: informative, chilling and...
Enthralling and horrifying tale of modern slavery. Not as creepy as Tideline, but informative and I'll never look at the Thames in the same way again. Read more
Published 1 month ago by H. Petre
3.0 out of 5 stars Unusual
Very different from the norm. Didn't think I was going to enjoy it, but it had me gripped right to the end, then I was disappointed when it did abruptly finish. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Susan Pringle
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good story and well written
Very good story and well written. I did not think it was as good as Tideline which is excellent so if you enjoyed this then go and buy that one.
Published 5 months ago by Kathryn Hughes
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
It was boring I really could not get into the book.
Published 5 months ago by Be
4.0 out of 5 stars Great.
I enjoyed this. I found myself really taking a dislike to one of the characters and found it hard to put down once I got into the story.
Published 5 months ago by Zoe
4.0 out of 5 stars Sinister
This book addresses a disturbing contemporary issue, domestic slavery, with a further twist. The characters are believable. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ration Nations
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, engaging and original
Divorced radio presenter Theodora has been persuaded by her ex husband to get a home help to assist with her teenage son who has just moved back in with her and her elderly father... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Rossi
5.0 out of 5 stars Super believable good read
Loved the story, characters, the whole book was addictive, it was my first book by this author and won't be my last. A fantastic riveting good read.
Published 11 months ago by Margo mc
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