Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: Sweet Damage


Sweet DamageAuthor: Rebecca James
Published: March 6th 2014
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Format: Paperback, 400 pgs
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

When Tim Ellison finds a cheap room to rent in the perfect location in Sydney it looks like a huge stroke of luck. In fact the room comes with a condition, and the owner of the house, the mysterious Anna London, is unfriendly and withdrawn. When strange and terrifying things start happening in the house at night, Tim wonders if taking the room is a mistake. But then his feelings for Anna start to change, and when her past comes back with a vengeance, Tim is caught right in the middle of it.
A thrilling rollercoaster of a story - read it with the lights on!
Sweet Damage is a compelling New Adult mystery with a distinctly gothic feel. I was new to Rebecca James' work so the quality of her storytelling took me completely by surprise. She is a master at building suspense to almost unbearable levels and leaving her readers terrified of their own shadows.

In other words, this woman scared the living daylights out of me.

In addition, good male narrators are hard to find, and Tim is far better than most. His voice isn't particularly strong or particularly memorable, but it's easy to slip into. Even though he is at times extremely unsympathetic and frustratingly weak, his numerous flaws make him seem more human and far more approachable, which allows readers to effortlessly slip into his skin. We've all known a Tim at some point: the not-quite-boy-and-not-quite-man, determined to avoid responsibility at all costs. He pines for his ex-girlfriend, a manic pixie dream girl type, not because she's especially lovable, but because she makes him feel wild and unrestrained.

In his effort to avoid the dreaded real life, he ends up living with the agoraphobic, recently orphaned Anna in her mansion. On the surface, Anna seems weak and vulnerable, but inexplicable things tend to happen to people around her, things that can’t just be explained away. After some very strange events and a few sleepless nights, Tim has to wonder whether Anna is unstable enough to hurt herself, and possibly even him.

Sweet Damage was so skillfully planned and constructed that it kept me guessing to the very end. I had no idea what might be the story behind Anna’s strange self-imprisonment, but I knew it must be awful beyond belief. I also couldn’t even begin to guess who was to blame for her situation, and while I had my doubts, none of them turned out to be correct.

Sweet Damage is frightening, fascinating, frustrating and so incredibly good. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it seems that when it comes to Aussie writers, wonders never cease.


A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


28 comments:

  1. I cannot tell you how excited I am by this review....I am always looking for a "scary" book, and the fact that it scared you makes me super excited. Okay, not that it scared you, but that you thought it was scary! AWESOME review! Added it to my TBR list, and I cannot wait to read it! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I love Rebecca James. If you loved this you will love her debut Beautiful Malice. I highly recommend it.

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  3. "In other words, this woman scared the living daylights out of me."

    I don't do scared. I do, however, love a realistic narrator. And despite avoiding scary like the plague, I can't help but be intrigued. These inexplicable things . . . are they really the result of a crazy agoraphobe, or are they the imaginings of paranoid and recently displaced boy-man? Excellent review! BUT . . . if I break-down and read this, and start having nightmares and/or panic attacks, it will be on your head *squints* Just kidding. Maybe . . . ;)

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  4. I haven't heard of this one, though that's probably because I avoid genuinely scary novels. Still, it's been awhile since I picked up an Aussie so onto my TBR this goes and hopefully I'll be reading an Australian novel soon enough - I certainly have enough of them on my shelves to choose from! ;)

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  5. Well, seems that this is one book that I must add to my TBR list and then read only during the day!
    I love suspense books even if then I usually have trouble falling asleep!
    Great review, Maja!

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  6. I don't know anything about this book! Thanks for telling me about it. I love a good gothic tale, but really scary isn't my thing. However, the fact that this narrator is unlikable at first, and the heroine is different, is intriguing. I'm glad this worked so well for you. I'll definitely keep it on my radar.

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  7. I have a feeling you might need this. *hands you a nightlight* Anna sounds like a complete head-case...possibly a deadly one?

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  8. Just added this to my TBR. Thanks so much. Sounds fabulous!!

    Toni @ My Book Addiction

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  9. I am happy that you found NA you enjoyed for a change.:) This one looks like something my sister would adore, I'll have to find it for her.
    Great review, Maja.

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  10. This sentence just sold me "In other words, this woman scared the living daylights out of me."

    Yay! I have to give this one a try now. Wonderful review Maja! I hope you have a really nice weekend!! :)

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  11. Oooo why haven't I heard of this one before Maja?! I love to see New Adult branching out into something a little different, so far I've only seen more straightforward romances with damaged people people finding their way to one another, but his is a mystery/thriller which is really exciting. I like how you describe Tim too, someone who feels real due to all his flaws. Must add this to the list!

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  12. A good NA??
    YAY
    I am glad to hear you enjoyed this one!
    I am not all that fond of male narrators because, as you said, the good ones are hard to find but.. I am curious about Tim.. and the fact that it scared the living daylights out of you :P

    Great review, Maja!! :)

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  13. This is the first time I'm hearing of this, Maja, but wow it sounds wonderful and all kinds of mysterious. I need to check this one out. I tend to shy away from male POVs because I don't feel like they are well-written often, but it sounds like the author captured the male POV well in this one. I'm curious as to what happened to Anna.
    Great review!

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  14. So true at "when it comes to Aussie writers, wonders never cease." I don't read NA because the plots always are similar and they're way too romance-centric for me, but it seems like that's not the case here. I'll be adding this one to my wishlist, Maja, and hopefully I don't find it too frightening.

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  15. I'm not totally on board with the whole "New Adult" subgenre, but your review makes me really curious about this book, Maja. Rarely do I find a read in which lefts me pondering long after I finish it. I'll add it to my tbr and hopefully I can find a copy to read.

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  16. Wow! This one scared the daylights out of you? That is saying a lot. I haven't heard of this, but I am now going to hunt it down, hopefully it will be available in the U.S.!

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  17. This sounds like such a cool mystery story!! The cover kinda threw me off a bit, but no matter, I can't wait to dive into Anna's secrets. Nice review Maja <3

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  18. I think it's one of those books I would not pick up, but if I read it I would like it

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  19. OMG! This sounds fab! BUT you said she scared you. Hm... I'm a wimp... but damn... this sounds so amazeballs! I do enjoy thrillers so perhaps I won't get too scared. If I do I'm telling you all about my nightmares! ;)

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  20. you're right about good male narrators, it's why I'm intrigued now. You know I haven't read a lot of NA yet but I really should try because I loved the ones I tried. Thanks for the review lady.

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  21. Three f-words in a row? "frightening, fascinating, frustrating" At least they are good ones! This book sounds awesome. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  22. I've been seeing a lot of reviews for supposedly really good, groundbreaking NA, but this one probably tops them all. If this book scared the lights out of you, then I am sold - body, heart, and soul, and I *WANT* to read this right now. Thanks for the recommendation, this was such a good find!

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

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  23. I haven't heard of this one but the NA with a gothic feel sound appealing

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  24. Ooh sounds creepy! I don't do well reading these books at night, but I am becoming more and more curious about them and trying to read what I can!

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  25. Wow, this sounds incredibly thrilling! I love mysteries, even the psychological ones. Especially ones where I'm guessing and the author still manages to stump me. Wonderful review, Maja! I must check this out! :)

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  26. I have two of James' books on my shelf and am still yet to read them - bad me! But, I am glad you enjoyed this and that you found it thrilling, Maja! There is something about some of our authors ;)

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  27. This might be a tad scary for me! But I'm dying of curiosity. I like that it has a gothic feel as well. Sounds good!

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  28. never heard of this one before! Glad to hear that it didn't fall flat thought, because it sounds very thrilling.

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