Published by Allen & Unwin on April 1, 2013
Genres: New Adult, Psychological Thriller, Thriller
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I still dream about Anna London's house. In my dreams it's as if the house itself has sinister intentions. But in real life it wasn't the house that was responsible for what happened. It was the people who did the damage ...'
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 In fact the room comes with a condition, and the owner of the house, the mysterious Anna London, is unfriendly and withdrawn.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 the first book I’ve read that explores agoraphobia, a debilitating, traumatising and downright scary anxiety disorder that prevents the sufferer from being in public. Rebecca James captures the sheer horror and immense anxiety that comes with the condition perfectly.
Tim Ellison finds the perfect opportunity to rent a cheap room in a beautiful, old house. Unfortunately, his house mate, Anna London, is stand offish, strange, and has agoraphobia and never leaves the house. All he’ll have to do is to check on her and pick up extra groceries for her every once in a while, in exchange for an awesome room….or so he thinks. Soon after he moves in, creepy things start to happen like people watching him at night, the house getting trashed, and it all points back to Anna.
This is the second Rebecca James book I’ve read and she’s definitely skilled at conveying complex and damaged relationships in a realistic and believable way. Her books are scary because they deal with realistic psychological issues and people, and when it comes to real people, you can’t predict their behaviour. While Beautiful Malice mostly explored the a toxic, dishonest friendship, Sweet Damage had some pure horror scenes when Tim moves into the big, old house – vandalism, bloody red letters, spiders in his bed, people watching him sleep. Even though the tormentor seems to be Anna, Tim still ends up falling in love with her which reveals that Tim may have a few issues himself.
Every character in the book is complex. Tim is a trusting, optimistic and happy go lucky guy who is comfortable in his own skin. His only folly is his naivety, especially when it comes to women. He’s obsessed with his ex girlfriend Lila, who is a flirty, beautiful, self-obsessed and overly critical woman who obviously has issues. Even though she has a boyfriend, she constantly flirts with Tim and uses him to boost her ego, which he knows, yet he still sticks around. The twisted game she plays is scarily accurate, as I have known a few Tim and Lila’s in my life. Lila’s character reminds me a lot of Alice in Beautiful Malice, with a slightly different portrayal.
I know it’s weird, but you end up rooting for Tim and Anna, as scary as that sounds. She’s an interesting character, and as the story unfolds, you’re as conflicted as Tim is about her. With all the creepy stuff happening around the house, it’s clear that it’s Anna who must be behind it, but she denies doing any of it and clearly shows that she’s as shocked and upset by the occurrences as Tim. Aside from her obvious mental issues, she’s a sweet girl who slowly comes out of her shell through the course of the novel. It’s amazing how the author can manipulate our feelings about this girl from Tim’s observations and her point of view, despite the scary events that occur around the house.
With some shocking revelations and twists and turns, Sweet Damage is a psychological horror that threw me about. The characters are intense, complex and the scariest part is that they are so realistic. Rebecca James delves into some complex relationships in her novels and it’s strangely fascinating. I can’t wait to follow this author and read more of her stuff, it’s addictive and there needs to be more like it!
I received a review copy from Allen & Unwin in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for sending me this copy! Click here to read an excerpt of Sweet Damage. Sweet Damage was released in Australia on April 1, 2013.
Rating 4 out of 5