When single mother Alex flees her abusive relationship and moves with her teenage son and baby girl to a rural ecovillage, she thinks she’s made the best decision of her life. Pine Ridge is idyllic: the off-grid lifestyle and remote location are perfect, and the community is welcoming – mostly. Charmed by its magnetic founder, Kit, and the natural beauty of the former farmland, Alex settles easily into her new home.
But her arrival at Pine Ridge disturbs barely submerged secrets, and she’s shaken by a series of eerily familiar events that seem to be connected to the abandoned farmhouse on the hill. Alex realises that, in escaping her own shadowy past, she may have stumbled into someone else’s. And this time, there may be nowhere to run.
Anna Downes made a major splash in the literary world in 2020 with the release of her breakout debut The Safe Place, a gripping and atmospheric thriller set on a remote French estate. BR readers loved it! And despite being released during a tough coronavirus lockdown, it became the #1 bestselling Australian crime debut of the year, cementing Downes as a new favourite for crime fiction fans everywhere. Now she returns with her highly anticipated new novel, The Shadow House, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Set in rural NSW, The Shadow House follows two mothers across dual timelines. There’s Alex, who is attempting to start a new life in Pine Ridge with her kids after fleeing an abusive relationship. Then there’s Renee, six years prior, whose son disappears under mysterious circumstances. Downes expertly weaves both timelines together as the past begins to repeat itself via a chain of bizarre events, making for some tense and compelling reading. At its heart, the novel explores a mother’s fears for the safety of her children and the extreme lengths she will go to protect them.
Like The Safe Place, Downes has yet again crafted a seemingly idyllic setting with dark and sinister undertones. Remotely located, the ecovillage is an interesting concept to explore in a thriller – one that Downes capitalises on – and it’s the perfect location for the eerie and troubling events that follow.
Smart, polished, and tautly plotted, The Shadow House is yet another brilliant thriller from Anna Downes that will lure you in and keep you on edge with every twist and turn.