Stepping out is a feature on my blog where I step out of the YA world and review an adult book. Today I am stepping out with Thornwood House, the debut novel by Australian author Anna Romer.
It is also the 10th book I have read for the Australian Women Writers challenge.
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Australia
Release Date: September 1st 2013.
Buy it from Booktopia.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
When Audrey Kepler inherits an abandoned homestead in rural Queensland, she jumps at the chance to escape her loveless existence in the city and make a fresh start. In a dusty back room of the old house, she discovers the crumbling photo of a handsome World War Two medic – Samuel Riordan, the homestead’s former occupant – and soon finds herself becoming obsessed with him. But as Audrey digs deeper into Samuel’s story, she discovers he was accused of bashing to death a young woman on his return from the war in 1946. When she learns about other unexplained deaths in recent years – one of them a young woman with injuries echoing those of the first victim – she begins to suspect that the killer is still very much alive. And now Audrey, thanks to her need to uncover the past, has provided him with good reason to want to kill again.
5 out of 5 stars.
I must confess that if I had not won this in a book pack I would never have read it, which would have been a shame because I ended up loving this book. Crime is not my thing, so despite the pretty cover, as soon as I saw that it contained a murder mystery I would have dismissed it. Again, thankfully I didn’t it.
Thornwood House was a gripping tale. I was pulled right in from the beginning and could hardly put it down. Audrey inherits a beautiful old homestead in rural Queensland named Thornwood. She and her daughter go and view the property wanting to sell it, but Thornwood quickly sinks under her skin. She and her daughter move in, and as Audrey is exploring the house, she discovers a picture of a handsome young war medic – Samuel Riordan. She discovers he was accused of bashing to death his love. Audrey finds a letter from that love and is convinced Samuel couldn’t be the one who killed her.
Unable to let it go, she digs deeper into the mystery, and soon, more and more secrets about this family unravel.
There were so many things about this book that made me fall in love with it, despite it bring a mystery. First, it was really well written. The characters were alive and full of personality. Audrey was a strong, highly likeable character. She was a survivor, an adapter. She just leapt off the page.
Second, it was set in the country, and I love country settings. Thornwood was a dream property, with an abundance of land, the kind of property I would love to live on one day. I pictured it so vividly that I was walking in and out of the dusty rooms and exploring the surrounding sprawling land with Audrey.
Third, we get glimpses into Aylish’s past – the girl who was murdered – and this is very much her story as well as Audrey’s. I also loved reading the old letters and dairy entries along with Audrey.
Fourth, there was romance. It was very much a sub-plot, and nowhere near as dominant as the mystery, but it was there. I loved that it was because I love romance. What I loved, and what I must commend Romer on, is having the love interest deaf. Plus one for diversity.
Needless to say, I will be reading Romer’s next book. She has created a mix of genres that have combined to make a stunning novel. Thornwood House gripped me from the start and had me on the edge of my seat, baited breath, puzzling over the mystery with Audrey. This is one book that should be read. If you are like me and this isn’t something you usually read, maybe it’s time to give something new a try. Your eyes might just be opened.
You can add it to your Goodreads here.