The Shadow House, by Anna Downes

20 October 2021
The Shadow House, by Anna Downes, book cover

It might be a story we’ve heard before, but there’s something about The Shadow House (published by Affirm Press, September 2021), by Sydney, Australia, based British author Anna Downes, that’s snags at my curiosity. First, there’s the prospect of starting a new life in a beautiful house, in a remote, yet welcoming, community, surrounded by a lush forest, far from a previous, unhappy existence.

But then it comes. Slowly at first. A gnawing doubt, that perhaps it’s all a little too good to be true. But by the time that happens, it’s too late. Alex, with her children, Ollie, a teenage boy, and baby Kara, have left Sydney, and moved to rural Pine Ridge, a fictional town on the NSW Central Coast of Australia. She left an abusive partner, and despite Ollie’s misgivings at leaving the city, Alex feels she made the right choice.

Until that is the strange, disturbing parcels, begin appearing on her doorstep, and Alex thinks she sees shadowy figures moving about in the dense woods enveloping the house. Six years earlier, meanwhile, Renee, had lived on a farm that became the site of the community Alex moved to. Like Alex, Renee also had a teenage son, Gabriel. But Gabriel went missing one day, and was never seen again.

Is there a connection between the odd things happening to Alex, and the tragedy that struck Renee’s family? Who is leaving bone fragments outside Alex’s house, and what’s with the spooky carry-on in the nearby forest? But Alex has cause to be alarmed, Renee reported the exact same happenings just before Gabriel disappeared…

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