Gazelle in the Shadows by Michelle Peach – Review

Title: Gazelle in the Shadows

Author: Michelle Peach

Genre: Thriller, Fiction



Summary: from Amazon

In the mid 90s, Elizabeth Booth is a young British college student studying Arabic at Durham University. With some travel and work already under her belt, she excels at her studies and is sent to Damascus to immerse herself in the language. Taken aback by the generosity and kindness of the people there, she easy slips into a life in the ancient city. She has friends, her studies, and even a handsome boyfriend. But things aren’t always what they seem. Soon, in a world where mistrust and disloyalty are commonplace, Elizabeth finds herself navigating a web of lies, betrayals, and even murder involving MI6, deadly terrorist factions, and the shadowy Syrian secret police.


Syria has been in the news for the last few years almost constantly but I must confess to knowing very little about the slightly less recent history of the country. Gazelle in the Shadows takes place in the mid 1990s and follows a British student studying Arabic as she spends a number of months in Damascus as part of her university studies. As she becomes embroiled in the culture and history of Syria she begins to realise she has come to a dangerous and unpredictable place.

The first thing I have to say about this book is how gorgeous the cover is . It is so atmospheric and elegant and it perfectly encapsulates the mood of the story. Gazelle in the Shadows is sort of a story of two halves: on the one hand it’s a kind of coming of age tale about a young woman finding herself through travel and the learning of languages, and on the other hand it’s a tense story of espionage and secrecy. I found Elizabeth, our main character, pretty interesting to follow although I must admit I found her slightly frustrating at times. I did like her but her naivety and lack of agency occasionally irritated me. Saying that, the situations she finds herself in are extraordinary and I have no idea how I would have coped in her shoes. I very much enjoyed seeing the beautiful aspects of Syria through Elizabeth’s eyes. The image I have of the country is sadly one of war and suffering so it was fascinating to learn about some of the rich culture and how people actually lived day to day.

As Gazelle in the Shadows moves towards it’s conclusion the action and thriller aspect of the book comes more to the forefront which worked well in my opinion. Overall I think there are a lot of good things about this book. The story is unusual and held my interest throughout. Despite some of my issues with the main character, I still found her intriguing and wanted to know how things would end for her. If you are looking for an interesting and different take on Syria’s history then I think Gazelle in the Shadows is well worth reading.

I received a copy of the book for review purpose. My review is my own honest opinion. 

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