#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · new release · thriller

New Release Book Review: The Shadow House by Anna Downes

Title: The Shadow House

Author: Anna Downes

Published: September 28th 2021

Publisher: Affirm Press

Pages: 384

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4 stars

When single mother Alex flees her abusive relationship and moves with her teenage son and baby girl to a rural ecovillage, she thinks she’s made the best decision of her life. Pine Ridge is idyllic: the off-grid lifestyle and remote location are perfect, and the community is welcoming – mostly. Charmed by its magnetic founder, Kit, and the natural beauty of the former farmland, Alex settles easily into her new home.

But her arrival at Pine Ridge disturbs barely submerged secrets, and she’s shaken by a series of eerily familiar events that seem to be connected to the abandoned farmhouse on the hill. Alex realises that, in escaping her own shadowy past, she may have stumbled into someone else’s. And this time, there may be nowhere to run.

From international bestselling thriller writer Anna Downes, The Shadow House lures you in and keeps you on edge at every turn.

Review:

‘There wasn’t a tiger. Of course, there wasn’t. But there was a lot of blood. The house was soaked in it.’

International bestselling author Anna Downes returns with an intriguing new thriller. The Shadow House is filled with issues of trust, safety, protection, pressure and strain, as two mothers across two different timelines negotiate a threat to the safety of their respective families. The Shadow House is spine tingling read for fans of psychological thrillers.

The Shadow House follows the life of Alex, a single mother who must escape quickly from her abusive relationship in order to protect her children. Alex makes a new life for herself in a remote ecovillage. It seems like a wise move until strange things start to happen to this stressed family unit. Despite the pure tranquility of the Pine Ridge ecovillage, disturbing events begin to occur. From shadowy secrets, odd events and the looming presence of a farmhouse, Alex finds it difficult to feel at home at Pine Ridge. But Alex knows she must make a go of things and she cannot continue to run from her responsibilities. Will Alex and her family finally find peace?

It is fabulous to see a new writer on the Australian literary scene make a splash on the international publishing circuit. Anna Downes has received purchasing rights for her new novel, The Shadow House from a US publisher. This is a great achievement for a new Australian writer and it indicates that this talented author has a fabulous career to come. Downes has produced another thrilling and addictive page turner with The Shadow House.

It is a great when a book displays the capacity to reel you from the opening. The Shadow House is a tale that hooked me from the moment I read the blub and the prologue. Consuming, speculative, questionable, creepy and perplexing, I was soon caught up in The Shadow House. I was keen to see where this book would take me as there was a strong element of the unknown. Anna Downes seems to keep the reader at arm’s length and she maintains this lingering air of mystery for the duration of this book. It was certainly a psychological teaser! The Shadow House maintains a solid level of suspense and it follows a very even tone pace wise from start to finish. Decent sized chapters help this novel progress really well and the reader is kept entertained from cover to cover.

The rural Australian ecovillage setting proved to be a excellent backdrop, matching the tone of this gothic thriller. I found the emphasis on the ecovillage side of The Shadow House to be quite unique and interesting, which encouraged me stick by this one until the end. Downes does a good job of illuminating her setting and this rural backdrop, which compounds the shadowy events of this book very well. I enjoyed the addictive two-part narrative utilised by Downes and I was completely drawn in to the unfolding events from the viewpoint of both female leads. Downes places her leads in very unstable and bizarre circumstances, testing these women to their very limits. It was interesting to see the fallout from these trying situations. I felt that Downes really tapped into the fears of a mother. The Shadow House is a smart and conflicting thriller, that offers plenty of food for thought.

The Shadow House is an unsettling read, that thriller lovers will absorb. Recommended.

The Shadow House by Anna Downes was published on 28th September 2021 by Affirm Press. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Shadow House, Anna Downes, visit here.

*I wish to thank Affirm Press for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

The Shadow House is book #90 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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