About this book…
I have this dream.
In it, I’m in the house and it’s dark and I know someone’s in there with me
Even though I can’t see them . . .
For Sarah and Patrick, family life has always been easy. But when Sarah’s mother dies, it sends Sarah into a downwards spiral. Knowing they need a fresh start, Patrick moves the family to the beachside house he grew up in.
But there is a catch: while their new home carries only happy memories for Patrick, to everyone else it’s known as the Murder House – named for the family that was killed there.
Patrick is adamant they can make it perfect again, though with their children plagued by nightmares and a constant sense they’re being watched, Sarah’s not so sure.
Because the longer they live in their ‘dream home’, the more different her loving husband becomes . . .
What did I think…
I saw a few great 5 star reviews of this book in January (namely those by Susan Hampson and Jacob Collins) so when I noticed that The Woman In the Dark was a kindle offer in February I decided to buy it. And due to the fabulous Good Friday weather we had, I chose it to read in the beautiful sunshine whilst sitting out in the garden. And I just want to start by saying that those much trusted blogger reviews were right and that THIS WAS THE BEST 99p I HAVE SPENT ALL YEAR!!! Honestly, this book was just a perfectly crafted piece of psychological suspense with a darkly atmospheric tension that held my attention so deeply we ended up eating sandwiches for tea at 9pm! NOTHING was going to drag me away from this book and food was definitely low on my list of priorities whilst I was inside The Murder House!
Meet the perfect family-perfectly dysfunctional that it! Sarah and Patrick have always had the most idyllic family life with their two children Joe and Mia but after Sarah’s mother dies, her grief becomes the catalyst for a change in all their relationships. Her depression leads her into an attempted suicide which then prompts Patrick to take charge and decide that they need a change in environment which should then restore perfection to their future together. And this was when alarm bells started ringing for me! Patrick started to change as soon as they began this new start but his controlling nature was visible to me even before the move. And it was certainly the reason that they were now living in a house that was the scene of an historic murder case! That house was practically a character in its own right here (it reminded me of that “family” horror film Monster House! If you’ve seen it you’ll know what I mean and if you haven’t…well…DON’T!) and I had a very easy time imagining each and every room in my head. Every time the cold spots were mentioned I literally got goosebumps, even though I was sitting in the warm sunshine, as I really felt as though I was there walking through those rooms with Sarah as she sought answers to her husbands behaviour. None of the main characters were particularly likeable but that’s the way I usually prefer them and I loved how worked up I got when they acted in ways that irritated me! I know that teenagers can become quite obnoxious and behave badly towards their parents (I’ve always thought it’s a way of making the coming separation easier) but Mia’s attitude towards her mother really did wind me up! Later I realised that, ofcourse, there was more to her behaviour than I thought but I really did want to shake her at times and I’m NOT someone who’s easily wound up!
I could explain more about how these characters affected me but to be honest I really just want you to read this book and have all the horror I felt punch you full on in the chest! Vanessa Savage has done a brilliant job of slowly getting the readers attention by feeding them small titbits of information and then holding them over our heads, just out of reach, until she decides to dangle them in front of us again. There were definite shocks to be had throughout the narrative and twists to the storyline that I certainly hadn’t been expecting. But it was the slowly menacing pace and the chilling “creepy as hell” house that took this book to another level of spine tingling intimidation. And I just want to mention that the salt on the windows creeped me out more than I thought possible as it reminded me of the time I lived in my own seaside “house of dreams”. One night I thought I heard a tapping at my window which I ignored as I was just coming out of a deep sleep so thought I had been dreaming. The next morning when I opened my curtains there on the window, written in the dried salt residue, was a message which said “Hi Joanne” written in a heart. I never found out who wrote it…
And on that rather disturbing memory I will end this review by saying that although this book creeped me out just as much as that message, it was absolutely brilliant! Vanessa Savage is a HUGELY talented writer and I can’t believe The Woman In the Dark is actually her debut! I’m now desperately awaiting her second book and as soon as it is released it will shoot straight to the top of my TBR pile!
Very highly recommended!
Meet the author…
Vanessa Savage lives by the sea in South Wales with her husband and two daughters.
She started out writing women’s fiction but soon realized she wanted her characters to kill each other rather than kiss each other…
Turning to (fictional) crime, she now writes psychological thrillers.