Author: 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 In fact the room comes with a condition, and the owner of the house, the mysterious Anna London, is unfriendly and withdrawn.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.