The Darkening Hour

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?


See details of Penny’s other books on her books page.

Sunday Mirror Review of The Darkening Hour

Struggling to care for her elderly father, journalist Dora is delighted when she hires Mona, a young Morroccan widow, to be her live-in domestic help.

But Mona has secrets of her own and mutual distrust soon festers.

Narrated by Dora and Mona in turn, the author skillfully plays with both their versions of reality - as this dark and brooding novels races towards its genuinely scary conclusion.

Good Housekeeping says

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 already put upon carer is frighteningly plausible.

crimethrillerfella blog review of The Darkening Hour

"This review of The Darkening Hour focusses on the power play between two women, an employer and her domestic worker.
Every crime novel is about power, I guess, and the extreme lengths people go to attain it. Penny Hancock’s The Darkening Hour is about what happens when one damaged person is given power over another. It’s a very timely novel about modern-slavery and exploitation, and how our own best intentions can warp and twist into something sinister.

Theodora Gentleman is a presenter on a radio station is struggling to cope with the care of her father, who has dementia, and her estranged son. She employs a Morroccan woman called Mona to look after her father, and becomes very quickly to rely on her to clean the house and to cook. But the relationship between the two women becomes increasingly toxic and Theodora’s treatment of Mona quickly becomes exploitative, with violent consequences."

ourbookreviewsonline blog review of The Darkening Hour

When Theodora Gentleman employs Mona as a maid and companion for her sick father (Alzheimer's) all is light and breezy.  Mona is employed under an agreement where if she doesn't work for Theodora then she must return to her native Morocco where poverty, a young child and a sick mother await. They hit it off straight away. But over time jealousy and paranoia take their hold and their relationship deteriorates - frighteningly so - to the point where one may actually commit murder. Or murders as the case may be.

This is one of those books that you can't carry on reading because it is too powerful but you can't leave it alone either. And while there's no happy ever after involved you will thoroughly enjoy it and become so involved you will want to shake either or both of them and scream at them "STOP! Look at what you've become!" but clearly you can't and they won't listen as they career towards unavoidable violent conflict.

What really worried me about this book is that the contract under which Mona is employed is actually a valid contract today and means such people can almost be treated, HERE in the UK, as slaves and that is worrying.

Political messages to one side, it's a thoroughly engaging read that will leave you moved, angry and just a little worried as to whether you could have been one of those characters.

WriteNoteReviews review of The Darkening Hour

Skilled storytelling and clever characterisation made The Darkening Hour a thrilling pleasure to read. The story is told alternately through each woman’s perspective, sometimes re-telling the same incident, other times moving the story forward. The reader is always asking, “How reliable is this narrator? Can I trust her?” Gradually, the reader starts to see that one narrator is more unreliable and this realisation carries the story through to its dark conclusion.