The Shadow House

By: Anna Downes

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.

If Oscars were given out for opening chapters of a book, I’d hope Anna Downes would get one for this one. The opening chapter was deliciously creepy and drew me in right away. I instantly wanted to keep going. 

Alex is such a broken character. With a teenager (who’s good at being a teenager) and a baby still being breastfed, she’s clearly worn out and looking for something new. Add that she’s running from an abusive relationship and you have a woman so mentally exhausted even the smallest shadows will play on her mind. 

Alex’s story is told in the first person point of view (my favorite!) so we’re treated to the internal monologues of a person trying to stay connected with her disengaged teenaged son who clearly needs his mother now more than ever yet still care for a baby whose basic needs seem all consuming. I liked her instantly. I felt her weariness at life over all, her desire to constantly run away and her fierce love for her children. 

Renee’s story is told in 3rd person but we are also treated to a kaleidoscope of emotion. I placed Renee at around the same age as Alex. While Alex has a baby to contend with, Renee has two overbearing, interruptive and opinionated parents to deal with. She feels their constant judgment of her as a wife and a mother while standing in the gap between them and her husband and her son, trying to keep the peace. 

In the midst of all of this is a creepy force attempting to steal their children and their lives. It disrupts the very fabric of the lives of these two women at the very worst of times. It plays on their minds, steals their peace and leaves both women hopeless. 

I really loved how these two stories were written. The events in Alex’s and Renee’s lives are lived perpendicular to each other at first but later in the story, they intersect in a most shocking reveal which I did not see coming. 

I loved the ending. Just when you thought it was all over, it really wasn’t. Not until the very end and I have to say, I was so pleased with the ending each character got. It wasn’t unbelievable in any way. 

If I have a critique at all, it’s how Renee’s parents were written. They could have been written as the insane, overbearing, judgmental people they were without adding in the Christian element. This is more of a personal remark as we Christians are almost always portrayed as Bible-thumping, unloving, calling Satan down, unreasonable people when most of us are not and most of us would not act like they did with our families. That being said, I will also add that it works well in this story. Go figure. 

My recommendation is to read this! It’s not scary but it is creepy and will keep you engaged from the first page to the very last. 

NOTE – Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐