Monday, March 11, 2019

The Woman in the Dark by Vanessa Savage

Title: The Woman in the Dark
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Format: Hardcover; 352 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (March 12, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1538714299
ISBN-13: 978-1538714294
Author's Website: N/A
Notes: I received an copy of the book from the publisher for review purposes . This in no way influenced my review.

For the past year Sarah has been grieving the loss of her mother, and at one point fell into a deep depression. Now some of the grief has lifted and she's doing better, but when a letter arrives in a woman's handwriting addressed to her husband she fears he may be having an affair. When she asks him about it, he says it was a note from a realtor letting him know his childhood home is for sale. While the answer pacifies her for the moment, Sarah can't forget how visibly upset he seemed after reading the missive. Nor can she understand his obsession with moving back into his old house...

'I'm staring down at the details Patrick gave me. I want to be able to share his happiness, his excitement. My childhood home, my dream house, he said, but I can't forget the other photo of the house, the one that was on the front of the newspapers fifteen years ago. Someone spray-painted the front door and that's the photo everyone used: a house, police tape still fluttering across the front, broken window boarded up, Welcome to the Murder House spray-painted in red on the front door.' 

From the moment they step into the house Sarah a bad feeling about the house. She feels like she's being watched, items not belonging to the family mysteriously start showing up, locked doors end up open without explanation, and then there are the cold spots...

Is it all in her mind or is something much more nefarious happening?

"You shouldn't stay here," he says. "It keeps happening. The same thing's going to happen. This house...Bad things happen to people who live in this house."
This is one of those books that keeps you second guessing as to what is going on. There are red herrings galore, a couple of twists and turns thrown in for good measure, and you begin to realize that you, like the main character, are completely in the dark. I came up with several possible explanations as to what was going on, but couldn't quite put it all together. I rather liked that.

On the surface, Patrick and Sarah seem to be a loving couple working together to get over a bump in the road, namely, Sarah's depression. As we start to get a more intimate view of the couple, however, we start to see the fractures in their foundation. Things aren't as perfect as they wish everyone to believe.

Sarah is a very malleable character. She is at her weakest and most vulnerable when her husband insists they move. While he paints a pretty picture of the house and the town he grew up in, reality reveals a much different picture. The house is run down and the town has more people moving out than in. Joe, their son, is in the middle of his senior year of high school and the move is strenuous on on both him and his younger sister, Mia. Sarah's depression has already taken a toll on the family and the move makes everything worse as tension runs high. 

Patrick, Sarah's husband, is something else. I didn't like him one bit. His reasons for moving are purely selfish and I sympathized with Caroline, Sarah's best friend. Sometimes the people you love have to figure things out for themselves. and you need to stay by their side ready to catch them when and if they fall. Caroline, however, was not above suspicion. That was part of the issue Sarah faced throughout the book. She didn't know who to trust, not even herself.

As the family moves into the Murder House, things get more disturbing with each turn of the page. Is the house haunted? Is someone messing with the family? Is Sarah slowly starting to lose her mind or could it be a combination of all of the above?  This one will have you scratching your head and questioning everything. What is real? What is fake? Secrets, lies, half truths, betrayals, and omissions are all slowly revealed as the skeletons in this small town come to light one by one.

I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. The story was engaging, the mystery was suspenseful, and the ending had me on the edge of my seat as it culminated in a struggle between life and death. I liked how Sarah managed to pull herself together and trust herself in the midst of so much chaos. I also enjoyed all the layers the author included that we needed to uncover in order to get to the heart of what was going on. While I enjoyed the book, there was one small item I found a tad confusing. Were the italicized passages just the self ramblings and/or rants of a character (that I shall not name) in regard to Patrick or letters he actually received? I ended up deciding they were letters because that might explain some of Patrick's behavior, but I wish it had been a little more clear. I'm forgoing the romance rating on this one because it wasn't a romance in any sense of the word. It was just a good psychological thriller. A very nice debut by author Vanessa Savage. I look forward to reading more of her books in the coming years.


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