This book has the right setting for a creepy read, a large house with a single occupant the beautiful but slightly strange owner, Anna London. Tim has returned from his travels and is currently sleeping on his ex-girlfriend’s sofa and is working for his father at Manly Beach in Australia. Tim is likeable, a gentle soul without a burning ambition to do anything much except surf and win back the ex, Lilla.
Lilla’s current boyfriend, unsurprisingly isn’t too happy with the latest set-up and with Lilla urging Tim on to do something meaningful with his life when he comes across an advert for a room to let in Anna London’s house. He goes to see the house and meets two of Anna’s friends who want Tim to keep an eye on Anna in return for a reduced rent. Tim is up for the challenge and moves in but soon realises that maybe he has taken on more than he bargained for.
The creepy setting of the house is increased by the strange things that happen within its walls but as Tim gets to know Anna better he is reluctant to walk away. This proved to be a well-paced, fast and furious read with a mystery or two to solve aided by the revelation of plenty of secrets that come at the reader thick and fast. The fact that the book is split into two halves and eighty-six chapters meant that I was constantly reading one more chapter especially those narrated by Anna rather than Tim as I was sure these held the key to the spooky goings on in the big house.
My only slight criticism of this book is that Anna’s character seemed far too worldly for a twenty year old and I thought it read more like a woman in her mid-twenties but then I realised this book was being billed as a YA read which explains why Rebecca James has decided to make her quite so young. The characters were interesting and although because this is more a plot-driven rather than a character-driven novel they weren’t all extremely well-developed, especially the siblings Marcus and Fiona who seemed a little two dimensional. The YA aspect was well served by the romantic element of the book and unfortunately Lilla was perfectly drawn, most of us have met her in one guise or another and sadly not just on the pages of a book.
Too often with books that have the build-up was the ending can feel a bit of a let-down, not in Sweet Damage, where all the strands came together neatly and made sense in respect of all that had gone before.
I’d recommend this book for those who like enjoy a good plot, a creepy setting and a well-plotted mystery paired with a little romance.
I’d like to thank the publishers Random House Publishing Group for allowing me to read this book in return for my honest review.