Book Review | The House on Foster Hill

The House on Foster Hill
Jaime Jo Wright

Bethany House | November 21st, 2017
Christian Fiction, Thriller, Murder Mystery

{GoodReads}
          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?


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Be ye WARNED: Possible Spoilers

{The Basics}
This book was. . . INTENSE.  If you are one who enjoys the mysteries with murderers, stalkers, romance, and danger, then you may enjoy this page-turner.  While I did not like Kaine and her overall personality (or her character in general, really), nor did I care for Ivy much at all, the story was entirely intriguing and had me hurrying to the end.

Both women have their issues, and each have their own way of working through them, but in the end they find hope, as well as the faith they have allowed to fade thanks to their circumstances.  Ivy is exceedingly stubborn, and trouble seems to find her at every turn (or she literally walks right into it, rather foolishly).  Each have had their experience with the death of a loved one.  The loss has made them bitter, Ivy more so than Kaine.  And Kaine has wrestled with far more than simply the death of her husband -- her marriage was struggling, due to her failing to let go of the past and truly embrace the man who loved her unconditionally.  She blames herself for diving into her job and all the baggage that it entailed, instead of learning to be and being the loving wife her husband needed.  He was faithful and wholly loyal, up to his death -- giving her all the space she thought she needed.  And that is what hurts her the most.

Two years later after Danny's death, Kaine moves to Wisconsin, hoping to start afresh.  But it seems her bad luck follows her trail, like the stalker who broke into her California home multiple times to move objects as a scare tactic.  She takes a chance and purchases an old, historical house not too far from her grandfather's hometown.  Little did she know the realtor had lied through his teeth and sold her an abandoned, good-for-nothing house that was literally falling apart and held some rather morbid secrets of its own.

{Positives}
At complete rock bottom, and on the last bit of her rope, Kaine drives to a gas station for a chocolate bar (because chocolate solves most everything).  It's here she meets an unlikely friends in the plump, station manager who looks at the bright side of everything and definitely lives up to her name -- Joy -- and her special needs daughter.  Joy serves as a comfort to Kaine in her time of need, and Kaine feels safe and cared for, learning again what it's like to be loved and eventually to love again.

Kaine's sister is an unwavering rock for her, even as she is back in California.  She allows Kaine to heal in her own time, but also pressures her to live again.  Grant may have a part in that.  She finds a good friend in him, and most likely more.

In the early 1900s, Ivy also eventually learns not to dwell on those who have gone before, nor to hold useless grudges on those who were once dear to her, and she too begins to live again.

{Spiritual Content}
One character seems to have a connection to the dead. . . she names a dead girl as if "[the girl] had whispered it to her spirit."  Since the death of her brother well over a decade ago, Ivy has kept a journal to record the memories of the dead.  The townsfolk often whisper of her as odd or strange or obsessed with such things.  But in her mind, it is a simple way to remember that life is fragile.  From that tragic day on, however, her faith has faded.  And she hasn't prayed to God since Andrew's death.

{Violence}
In the early 1900s, a woman is murdered by strangulation and her body stuffed into a hollow tree.  Another woman is assaulted and nearly killed by an assailant.  We learn later that they are not the only women to have endured abuse, although the one was the first to have been killed.

In the present day, Kaine's husband is killed in a car accident.  It was labeled an "accident" but is later found to have been murder.

As mentioned before, Kaine has suffered the mind tricks of a stalker.  We learned of her reports to the police back in California that the man would enter her home to frighten her.  [SPOILER] As a result of her former job as a counselor of sorts for women who are abused, Kaine made many enemies in their boyfriends/husbands, and we learn that her stalker was one of them.  Due to this, Kaine is extremely paranoid and frightened.  Especially when it seems her stalker has followed her to Wisconsin. . .

The Wisconsin stalker scares her with a photo of her dead husband in an upstairs room of the house she just bought.  Another time, he paints in red her late husband's name on the windows.  And follows her as she rushes to the safety of her car, leaving red handprints on the rear window.

A man threatens a woman with a gun.

{Language; Alcohol & Drugs}
None.  Slang "darn" used at least once.  Someone mutters "a stream of curses" in frustration.

A man is drugged, causing his death in a car accident.  Possibly some mention of wine, but I don't quite recall. . .

{Love-y Content}
Kaine is quite attracted to Grant, the artsy, handsome, modernly-bespectacled man, who seems a little too perfect, in my opinion.  I honestly cannot think of a single flaw or issue he had. . . He volunteers at an animal shelter, works as a professor (I think), among a couple other things around town, and just seemed too perfect a character.  But all in all, he was a good friend to Kaine, offering support and protection and his own home after every frightening episode.  (Nothing happens between them in his house, I promise, he's quite the gentleman.)  They hug and relax.  Kiss at once, maybe twice.  At one point, Kaine thinks he looks almost "sexy" in a sweatshirt simply because it was him wearing it.  It's implied they want to see where the relationship will go in the future.

ALSO, PLEASE NOTE this novel deals with human trafficking.  More specifically, sex trafficking, in which [SPOILER] Foster House has been used as a midway point for such an operation.  Many, many girls suffer there, one dies.  We don't read of specifics, no worries.  The subject is approached as an abomination, rightfully so, and characters work to stop its evil.

{Conclusion}
A definite thriller.  I have no other description.  It was a rather enjoyable page-turner, although I didn't really fall in love with any of the characters.  But it earns four out of five stars in my opinion.  And I'm not gonna tell you whodunnit.  You gotta read and figure it out for yourself!  :]

16-18+


I was provided with a copy of this novel
in exchange for my honest review.

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To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass, and a book of rules,
And each must make, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.
-Anonymous-