Author: Rebecca James
Published by: Bantam
Publication Date: December 2, 2014
Tim Ellison feels lucky when he finds a cheap place to rent in his dream location, close to the restaurant where he works as a chef, and even closer to his favorite surf spot at Sydney’s popular Manly Beach. But the cavernous house is infused with a sense of foreboding, and his furnished room there comes with a condition: he must look after the mansion’s mysterious owner.
Anna London is withdrawn and frail, a twenty-year-old with the inexplicable demeanor and habits of an elderly woman. From her grand home on the hill, she can see the city and the ocean, but she can never leave. Her anxieties keep her locked inside, unable to handle the outside world.
As Tim settles in, he struggles to get to know the person who depends on him for food and care. Slowly, Anna reveals glimpses of herself—her history, her sadness, her crippling fears. And then strange things begin to happen: loud banging in the night, unexplained figures in the shadows, sinister messages on the walls. Tim is startled to find that even as his unease about the house grows, he is increasingly attracted to its hauntingly beautiful owner. But is Anna London someone to pity . . . someone to love . . . or someone to fear?
Well, this was a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting much from Sweet Damage and felt reluctant to even read it. I’m certainly glad I did, though.
Tim is happy living his life working as a line cook and surfing any chance he gets. Unfortunately, Lilla, his ex-girlfriend, thinks it’s time for him to quit sleeping on her couch. When he finds a room in one of the biggest and fanciest homes around for only $100, it has to be too good to be true, right? Right.
He shares the place with Anna, a young woman who has agoraphobia. She’s a bit odd, and it doesn’t take long for him to discover there’s more going on with her than he had anticipated. Strange things begin to occur in the house – shadowy figures watching him, rooms getting thrashed, and writing on walls are just a few. It all seems to point to Anna.
Sweet Damage has a classic feel to it, a bit Gothic. The creepy atmosphere it provides is fantastic and really pulled me in. It’s not scary or frightening, but it does have an intensity about that I appreciate. I also enjoyed the twists and the way the mystery surrounding Anna and the house unfolded.
I liked Tim and Anna, both characters are nicely done. We mostly get Tim’s POV, but the addition of Anna’s really added to the intense, mysterious vibe at times. The secondary characters are interesting too, but oh man, I wanted to drown Lilla. A lot. She’s so damn annoying and rude. That was her character, though, and it fit with the story.
Something else I liked was the use of social media. It’s so embedded in our lives today, that it’s almost laughable sometimes how authors ignore it in their characters’ lives. The role it played in this book was smart.
Overall, Sweet Damage was a pretty good book and definitely worth the read.