by Jaime Jo Wright
An often-abandoned house, the site of nefarious deeds and the focus of inexplicable activity is at the heart of this atmospheric tale.
The House on Foster Hill is a place to start to get your fright up before Halloween.
The book covers two stories, told in alternating sections, separated by 100 years.
Ivy Thorpe, 26, is a spinster living with her father, a doctor and medical examiner for Oakwood, Wis. The discovery of a beautiful young woman’s beaten and strangled body stuffed into a hollow tree at the foot of Foster Hill ignites Ivy’s passion and commitment to finding the infant the young woman had recently had.
Joel Cunningham, the best friend Ivy and her late brother had in their teens, has recently returned to town as a sheriff’s detective. Despite Ivy’s negative assumptions about why Joel left 15 years ago, the pair forge an uneasy truce to find the missing baby — even when it takes them deep into the foreboding house on Foster Hill.
Kaine Prescott, 30, a social worker who helps abused women, has fled San Diego, where she lived with her late husband, Danny. Danny died in a car accident — a drug-influenced one, the police say. Kaine knows Danny never took drugs, and believes he was murdered. She also believes his killer is stalking her.
She decides to fulfill one of Danny’s dreams: moving to the Midwest and renovating a historic house. Sight unseen, she buys the house on Foster Hill. She knows her family had roots in Oakwood. She plans to camp out in the house while restoring it. But she’s not prepared for the brooding, ramshackle structure’s state of decay. The situation becomes even more nightmarish when it appears her stalker has followed her to Oakwood.
This is not a great — or even good — book, but it is deliciously Gothic and suspenseful. The characters are flat and the plot cluttered. (There are two murders, two romances, a missing child, a stalker, a haunted house with a past and themes of abused women, sex-trafficking and “Come to Jesus” here.) But to get into the spirit of the season, nothing beats a decaying Victorian manse tainted with cruelty and evil.