Title: Devil’s Lair
Author: Sarah Barrie
Published: June 17th 2019
Publisher: HQ Fiction – AU
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller, Suspense
Rating: 4.5 stars
For readers of The Dark Lake and The Dry, comes this taut psychological suspense set in a dramatic Tasmanian landscape from bestselling author Sarah Barrie.
A lonely widow, a sinister act, a remote mansion with a dark past…
After the violent death of her husband, Callie Jones retreats to a cottage in the grounds of an old mansion in Tasmania. The relative remoteness of the place and the wild beauty of the Tasmanian landscape are a balm to her shattered nerves and the locals seem friendly, particularly horseman Connor Atherton and his siblings at the nearby property, Calico Lodge.
But all is not well: the old mansion has a sinister past, one associated with witchcraft and murder. As Callie is threatened by odd events in the night and strange dreams overtake her sleep, she begins to doubt her own sanity. What’s really going on beneath the surface of this apparently peaceful town? Are her friends and neighbours really who they seem? As events escalate, Callie starts to realise that the mansion may hold the key to unlocking the mystery, but the truth might have as much power to destroy as it does to save.
If you take one damaged widow, a whole host of creepy events and a shadowy past you have Devil’s Lair, the latest romantic suspense novel from Sarah Barrie. Devil’s Lair leans towards psychological suspense, with a hint of mystery and a dash of romance. Sarah Barrie’s latest is a tightly woven and engrossing novel, that consumes the reader from start to finish.
Devil’s Lair opens with an explosive introductory chapter. We meet Callie, a woman who sees her husband killed in the beginning chapters of this novel. It is an event that brings Callie away from the Hunter Valley, to an isolated cottage in Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain region. Callie hopes to find peace and solace in her new remote locale. However, Callie can’t shake the feeling that her new home, which situated in the grounds of an old mansion, has secrets to tell. She gets a chill down her spine and strange events of the past have her questioning her sanity. Callie begins to doubt those around her in a quest to decipher the truth. This unravelling of the past and the mystery surrounding the mansion Callie currently occupies has the ability to do a great deal of damage. Can Callie survive yet another blow to her sanity?
Sarah Barrie is a commanding voice in the world of Australian romance and psychological suspense. I have really enjoyed her previous books and I was excited about the prospect of being able to review this new title. I haven’t read Barrie’s most recent book before this one, Bloodtree River. It seems I have some catching up to do as there are brief references and inclusions of some minor characters in Bloodtree River. But I do need to indicate clearly that you do not need to read Barrie’s previous novels to appreciate this one. I am living testimony to this!
Firstly, I have to say I was so impressed by Barrie’s sense of place in this novel. A return visit to Tasmania for me has been on the cards for some years now. I missed out on getting to the Cradle Mountain region of Tasmania when I visited nine years ago. My continued desire to see this stunning mountain based area of Tasmania is now high up on my travel list, thanks to the bountiful descriptions offered by Sarah Barrie. These setting sequences completely took my breath away. I dearly wanted to be standing there with Callie, the main character, minus the mishaps she goes through!
The Tasmanian landscape dominates this novel, it really is a character in its own right. The creepy mansion Callie retreats to after her Hunter Valley crisis has a great deal of page presence. Although the Hunter Valley sequences only appear in the first few chapters, this setting still affected me and I was drawn to the atmospheric sense of place exuded by this locale. The opening is an explosive one to say the least, but it is also essential, driving the events that are to come for the rest of the novel. The beginning chapters really work to completely hook the reader, I know once I read the first chapter I was completely at the mercy of Sarah Barrie and her book, Devil’s Lair.
So, with a title like Devil’s Lair, it is easy to surmise that the book has a dark and evil tone to it. There are themes in this novel that hint to cults, witchcraft and more. I liked the way in which Barrie presented these ideas. I am a big fan of gothic style novels and I would say that Devil’s Lair easily fits into this category. With plenty of swirling suspicion, odd characters, a grand old house with secrets, fishy behaviour and hints at something sinister at work, Barrie keeps the reader enthralled at every moment possible.
Rich characterisation defines Devil’s Lair, particularly in regards to the lead Callie, plus supplementary protagonists, Paisley and Connor. There are a good handful of characters that populate this novel and I had my doubts about a number of them. I think Barrie has worked hard at shrouding many of these characters in plenty of mystery so we continually question their intentions. This is always a sign of a solid suspense and mystery based novel.
Barrie’s novels, this one included, are generally offset by an undercurrent of romance. In Devil’s Lair, the reader wants Callie to be happy again after such a tragic event. It takes some time to come and we understand Callie’s reservations. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book and I am confident that the audience will be receptive to this romance too.
Devil’s Lair provided to be an exhilarating read, set to a spectacular Australian stage. Devil’s Lair is a breathtaking and a clincher of a tale that I would recommend highly to readers of romantic suspense and mystery novels.
Devil’s Lair by Sarah Barrie was published on 17th June 2019 by HQ Fiction – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Devil’s Lair, Sarah Barrie, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harper Collins Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Devil’s Lair is book #86 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge