Rebecca James took the publishing world by storm in 2010 with her debut novel Beautiful Malice, published in 52 countries. Her eye for eerie drama secured her a name as a writer of popular young adult fiction. James’s talent lies in her ability to get inside the head of her young adult characters. Her writing highlights those years full of angst and uncertainty, but when James’s couples this with tragic circumstances she manages to pull off a page turner.
Sweet Damage is set in a rambling beautiful house in the Sydney beachside suburb of Fairlight. Tim Ellison is an uninspired young surfer, working for his father in a restaurant, with no great hopes or aspirations. He wiles away his days, living with an ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend still hankering for his former girlfriend. When he finds a cheap room to rent in a house in Fairlight, walking distance to his father’s restaurant, he thinks he is onto a winner, but the house holds deep dark secrets.
Living alone in this sinister mansion is Anna, a fragile, quiet young woman. She had been left the house after both her parents had been killed in a car accident. Her agoraphobic tendencies make her a recluse, unable to leave her home. Initially Tim is cautious of Anna whose only friends are Marcus and Fiona, a brother and sister, who seem to take a prodigious interest in her.
In return for cheap rent Tim buys supplies for Anna. But soon strange happenings begin to occur in the house making Tim wary of Anna and her erratic behaviour. Tim begins to wonder if it was a mistake to move in. Anna is withdrawn and unfriendly disappearing for hours into the attic. At night he can hear strange noises coming from Anna‘s room, but in the morning she remembers nothing.
As time passes Tim’s feelings for Anna begin to change. He sees a vulnerable being in need of care, surrounded by tormentors.
James’s gripping plot keeps the reader on edge, guessing right up until the end. The skill James showed in her first book is evident in Sweet Damage. The pace and intensity of the book will keep readers thrilled from beginning to end.
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