Anna Downes | The Shadow House

The Book: 

The Shadow House by Anna Downes
Published April 5th 2022 by Minotaur Books
Date read: April 28, 2021

The Characters: 

Alex and her children Ollie and Cara

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buy it on | Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

Alex, a single mother-of-two, is determined to make a fresh start for her and her children. In an effort to escape her troubled past, she seeks refuge in a rural community. Pine Ridge is idyllic; the surrounding forests are beautiful and the locals welcoming. Mostly.

But Alex finds that she may have disturbed barely hidden secrets in her new home. As a chain of bizarre events is set off, events eerily familiar to those who have lived there for years, Alex realizes that she and her family might be in greater danger than ever before. And that the only way to protect them all is to confront the shadows lurking in Pine Ridge.

Click here for book spoilers for The Shadow House
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Shadow House, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist:

The witch wasn’t anything nefarious, she was just an elderly neighbor with dementia wandering the property. Her name was Bess, and we met her in Renee’s chapters.

Renee never left the property–she just changed her name to Jenny. Their timelines merged when Alex realized who she was.

All of the spooky stuff in had real-world explanations. In Renee’s timeline, it was loan sharks threatening her husband to pay them back. In Amy’s timeline, it was kids trying to scare them. I can’t remember what happened with the dead crow, but Amy had sent the doll to try to scare Ollie. She had been assaulted at school, and thought Ollie was a bad kid because he was suspended from his previous school. Renee thought these things were history repeating itself, so she left the letter for Alex to get her to leave.

Gabe left home on his own because his father was abusive. He didn’t go far, though: just to the next door neighbor’s house. His father had seen him leave and let him go. At the neighbor’s house, though, Gabe startled Dom in the middle of the night. Dom accidentally hit him with a bat and he fell down the stairs. Dom was afraid of going to jail, so he didn’t call an ambulance. Alex and Renee found out because Bess was finally able to break through her dementia enough to tell them. Dom confessed when the police came.

The Ending:

Jenny stayed at Pine Ridge, as well as Alex’s family. Alex forgave her and they stayed friends. Kit and Alex began dating (Kit as the creepy cult leader was a red herring). Maggie was also harmless, she just did a lot of drugs and didn’t like outsiders. She left Pine Ridge.

The Review: 

Thank you to Minotaur Books for this gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.

No sophomore slump here–I liked The Shadow House even more than Anna’s previous book, The Safe Place. We meet Alex, a single mom with two children, just as she’s moving to a rural community to give her family a fresh start. The Pine Ridge community gave me culty summer camp vibes, which was the perfect setting for this tense thriller.

The Shadow House was one of those audiobooks that I listened to straight through. The story was perfectly paced, with some well-placed red herrings. While the reader may be able to guess some twists, there is no way they will be able to figure out all the threads. I really enjoyed how the ending came together!
Audio Review: I liked that the author, Anna Downes, read a few passages throughout the book. The other narrator was Natasha Beaumont. I loved the Australian accents. I always think listening to a thriller on audio lends a little more air of suspense to the story, and The Shadow House was no exception.

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