Review copy provided by publisher
Simon & Schuster, September 2013
Synopsis- When Audrey Kepler inherits an abandoned homestead in rural Queensland, she jumps at the chance to escape her loveless existence in the city and make a fresh start. In a dusty back room of the old house, she discovers the crumbling photo of a handsome World War Two medic – Samuel Riordan, the homestead’s former occupant – and soon finds herself becoming obsessed with him. But as Audrey digs deeper into Samuel’s story, she discovers he was accused of bashing to death a young woman on his return from the war in 1946. When she learns about other unexplained deaths in recent years – one of them a young woman with injuries echoing those of the first victim – she begins to suspect that the killer is still very much alive. And now Audrey, thanks to her need to uncover the past, has provided him with good reason to want to kill again.
Review- I just love discovering fresh Australian talent, a new author that will have me counting down the days until their next book release. Anna Romer is on that list!
When I sat down to write this review, I had so many thoughts and feelings buzzing around that I worried I wouldn’t be able to get across how much I loved this book. Then I read back over the S&S media release for Thornwood House and sighed with relief. They’ve already come up with a perfectly succinct summary of the book.
“A beautifully crafted Australian rural gothic thriller.”
That’s exactly what this story is and the fun part is picking up the book and discovering exactly that- plus all the things about the story that can’t be captured in one sentence.
Rather than give a recount of the synopsis, I’m just going to share my feelings about the book. There’s so many story threads that weave together that it would be impossible for me to give it justice and I think it’s far more enjoyable discovering that for the first time when reading this story.
By about a third of the way into the book, I was completely hooked. I felt the eeriness of the house that Audrey and her daughter Bronwyn inherit in rural Queensland and my curiosity was piked. There’s something about Romer’s writing style that really drew me in, the way she created characters that felt so real and how skilfully she did all that with a novel written in first POV, all told from Audrey’s perspective (and interspersed with dreams and letters). I felt the obsession and the anticipation as Audrey devoured the letters and diaries, I was turning the pages of the book just as quickly.
The romance sub-plot was also beautifully done. Who would’ve thought a deaf hero could come so alive on the page and the attraction between Audrey and Danny was sizzling just like the Aussie sun. The mood and tension so cleverly developed to make this romance very believable and realistic.
The suspense in Thornwood House has to be one of its main strengths. I honestly didn’t feel like I could trust anyone in the town (a projection of Audrey’s own suspicious nature) and I was eager to find out who the villain was. By the last 100 pages, I sat up reading late into the night, turning the pages so quickly with my heart literally pounding in my chest. I felt like I was Audrey and that my life was in danger. So much so, that by the time I finished the book and turned off the bedside lamp it took me hours to fall asleep because I felt so hypervigilant!
Thornwood House is jam packed with tension, intrigue, suspense, romance, Aboriginal folklore, the quaintness (and peculiarities) of a small town and hidden truths. I can’t recommend this book enough!
Thornwood House can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers
This book was read as part of the AWW2013 challenge: