Book Reviews

Book Review: The Shadow House

By Anna Downes

Published April 2022

320 Pages

This book has been on my TBR list since at least December.  I tried (unsuccessfully) to read the ARC version and it FINALLY came available at my library (support your local library, folks).  Did it live up to my long-awaited anticipation?  Let’s find out.

Here’s the blurb:  Single mother Alex has a long history of choosing the wrong men, and her solution when things go sour has always been to pack up and move.  This time, she’s landed her family at Pine Ridge, a rural eco-village.  The other residents seem friendly, and she hopes she’s finally found a safe place for her and her children.  However, strange things start to happen as soon as she arrives, and there’s a rumor of a witch wandering in the surrounding woods. The story says the witch was responsible for a tragedy that struck the abandoned farmhouse overlooking Pine Ridge. Is history about to repeat itself?  Alex is determined to find out, before her own son is the next victim.

“The Shadow House” interpreted by Wombo Dream

What I really, really liked about this book:  the creep factor.  From the prologue on, it was deliciously creepy.  And like any good thriller, Alex was a great unreliable narrator.  I was never sure if she was falling apart from the stress of trying to raise two kids alone or if, as hinted at, she was crazy.  Add to that the secondary storyline of Renee, the woman who used to live in the farmhouse and lost her son.  The tension rose exponentially as the two stories merged together and the risk to Alex’s son Ollie grew more ominous.  The author kept me guessing as to what was really going on with the “witch” and who the real antagonist was.  (Hint:  I guessed wrong).

As much as I liked this book, I did have a few nitpicks.  The more minor one was establishing the time-frame for the backstory right away.  I got confused because it felt like they were happening in tandem, which was impossible.  That question was eventually answered though.  What did actually irritate me was the love interest subplot.  I find this a lot in thrillers:  romance subplots that either don’t add anything to the story or that don’t seem to go anywhere.  There was so much packed into this book that Alex’s blossoming romance was just white noise.  It was well established that she had a long history of picking the wrong guy, so I’m not sure why I was supposed to believe that this time, she could trust her intuition.  I guess because the author told me.  Really, it could have been left out and the story wouldn’t have suffered.

However, it was still a great read.  It ended on a very hopeful note – much more so than I had anticipated, reminding me a bit of the ending of Outer Banks by Anne River Siddons.

In the end, I rated this book 3.5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐+

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

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