Sweet Damage by Rebecca James Review: Complex creepy psychological thriller

October 16, 2013 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

Sweet Damage by Rebecca James
Published by Allen & Unwin on April 1, 2013
Source: Publisher
Genres: New Adult, Psychological Thriller, Thriller
Amazon | Book Depository
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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 In fact the room comes with a condition, and the owner of the house, the mysterious Anna London, is unfriendly and withdrawn.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


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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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38 responses to “Sweet Damage by Rebecca James Review: Complex creepy psychological thriller

  1. Amie Lout

    It does sound really creepy. Phobias can be very horrible in some cases. Thrillers are really capturing my brain lately, there are so many great ones out there. I suggest To Sleep…Perchance to Die by Don Grippo, dongrippo.com has the book information there. It was fast paced and more so as I couldn't put it down. I am going to look more into James' thriller, I bet I will love it!

  2. Holy moly this sounds so creepy! I don't read psychological thrillers (even though they're SO intriguing) because my mind would continuously be playing certain scenes over and over again. I just can't deal with the idea that someone would be watching another sleep. I've already got goosebumps just thinking about it!! I'm really glad you enjoyed this though Jeann, but I might have to give it a miss 😛
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…Book Blitz: Boy Swap by Kristina SpringerMy Profile

  3. WOW, what an excellent review, Jeann! I love creepy psychological thrillers, because those that are believable scare the crap out of me! And somehow, I enjoy that every now and then.

    It must be so debilitating to suffer from agoraphobia, I am very happy that is not something I have to deal with. I'm definitely adding Sweet Damage to my TBR 🙂

    Have a fantastic Friday!
    Lexxie @ (un)Convent recently posted…Cover Reveal Blitz: Stripped Clean – Ellis CarringtonMy Profile

  4. Wow, I've never heard of Sweet Damage but it sounds incredibly creepy but really, really interesting. I love that it's about a real phobia. I'm super curious about this one now (prob because it's the most original thing I've heard in a while). I'm going to look into buying a copy of this. Great review, Jeann!
    Becca @ Nawanda File recently posted…TV Pilots in Review: ReignMy Profile

  5. Woah. Sounds delightfully creepy, very appropriate for this month! I've yet to read a book where agoraphobia is fully fleshed out, so I'm really interested in this one! Nice to know that the characters are flawed, that's what I love about them! Great review, Jeann! 🙂
    Marianne Robles recently posted…My Perfect Boyfriend (11)My Profile

  6. I need to check this author out, her books feature psychologically damaged characters and that is right up my alley. I've read books with characters that seem to have the same condition as the protagonist in this one but mostly because of past tragedies that happened to them, it will be interesting to see if it's the same for this book and the additional horror theme is an added plus for me.

    I'll add this to my TBR, the blurb calls more to me than Beautiful Malice actually 🙂 Great review!
    Amir recently posted…Review: Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish DollerMy Profile

    • Yeah, I actually enjoyed Beautiful Malice a bit more but they were both pretty strong books. I think because this one had the added romance angle. I think a few NA books are like that, interestingly enough. I need to read more NA books I think. Thanks Amir!

  7. Whew! I just expanded my vocabulary after reading this review. Agoraphobia? Seems like a very extreme version (as in 1M times) of anti-socialness. It is very interesting to study what caused this people to have the said disorder.

    Okay, I am glad that you greatly enjoyed this book, Jeann. But this is something that I don't want to snuggle with. It's scary and very disturbing. Anna seems like not just suffering from Agoraphobia but she may also be possessed by a dark entity. Perhaps she also needs an Exorcist…? What do you think?

    Layered characters + psychological horror + romance= Winner!

    Great review, Jeann!
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    • I know right, I've heard of it before but I didn't quite realise what it actually was. I love scary/creepy and thrilling things even though sometimes I get nightmares or have trouble sleeping lol! Hmmm that's a really interesting theory, I don't want to spoil the book though. Thanks Charlotte!

  8. Wow, what a brilliant review of what sounds like a brilliant book! I think I really need to see if I can get both this one and Beautiful Malice on Amazon.es or TheBookDepository cause I need to read them!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #12!My Profile

  9. Hmm… Psychological Horror isn't really my thing, but Romance is and I'm definitely intrigued by Anna. I like that the character's actions and Tim's naivety all seem natural – that speaks quite highly of the writing and plot. 🙂 Cool review, it's very helpful – I wouldn't have considered this one before reading your review. Thanks!
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  10. Mollydee

    Wow this sounds like an awesome book. Not that I dont get excited about a lot of books but this has a lot of elements in it that are going to push it to the top of my To Read list. Psychological horror is so so different from flat out blood and guts. I think it is they psych stuff that makes you jump!

    Thank you for your review of this book. Lucky you to get a copy in exchange for a review! So glad you enjoyed it