Saturday, December 30, 2017

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

From Amazon:
Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather's Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house's dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy's search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives--including her own--are lost?

Murder mysteries aren't usually the first thing I pull off the shelves. Actually, I could probably count the murder mysteries I've read in my lifetime on one hand. But because I've been trying to expand my reading horizons this year, and because I'm searching for the good quality books and authors of today, I decided to push submit and request The House of Foster Hill. I'm glad I did. It was a newer experience, but one I don't regret. 

This book follows the stories of Kaine (I just love that name!) and Ivy simultaneously, however, their stories are set about 100 years apart. We enter Ivy's world first, plunging into the sobering world of death, as her father is the medical examiner in the tragic death of an unknown girl. Since she has confronted death all her life, she uses her time to write the stories of those who have passed away and she records it in a little book. While others in the community believe she's crazy, she knows there is something different about this girl's death and stops at nothing to bring the unknown to light. I really appreciated Wright's confidence and ability to begin a book with a distressing topic but use it to create the just horror for murder and yet wrap the book and reader in a faith-based message. The unknown girl found dead isn't the only one with a mystery around her for Ivy has her own story to live through the book and hers is one of soul-searching and courage. 

Kaine's story begins in Wisconsin as did Ivy's, but Kaine unknowingly stumbles across family history when she purchases a huge house. In order to avoid her stalker, Kaine has lived in continual vigilance and fear all her life, but she learns the meaning of trust and safety as she attempts to find evidence that her husband was murdered. She finds protection in a doggy friend, and begins the slow process of friendship with a few around her, all the while seeking to relive her past in order to bring justice to her husband and remove the stalker from her life. 

This story isn't all horror and tragedy. There are sweet moments of friendship and vulnerability. There is trust and justice. There is comfort and relief. And some of the greatest comfort and hope comes from a very unexpected place and person in the darkest of times. 

But this is a deep story, and for that reason (among others), I would not recommend it to young readers. There are a few instances where the romantic thoughts were unnecessary, in my opinion, especially as both parties were not married. However, I can only recall about two moments of that, so it's not excessive. Also, there is murder, human trafficking, abuse, stalking, and other topics that would be frightening if not handled with a mature mind. But for those who are able to process such topics, this book is an important reminder and an inside look into "everyday" lives of some people. We don't speak of human trafficking and murder much perhaps, but it's real, and it's good to understand the fear and terror that accompanies it so we can do something about it when the need should arise. And I think it's good to be reminded about the dark side of life once in a while in order to be able to support organizations and individuals who focus their time and resources on bringing relief to such victims.

Read carefully, but read deeply. 

Join me in 2018 for more reviews of fantastic books! Happy New Year. God bless.

*Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

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