Book Review: The House By The Sea

The House By The Sea by Louise Douglas

The ghosts of the past need to be laid to rest…

When Edie’s mother-in-law, Anna DeLuca, dies, she is relieved. Edie blames Anna for the accident that destroyed her family. So, when her will lures Edie to Sicily and the long-abandoned Villa della Madonna del Mare, she sees through Anna’s games.

Suspecting Anna is meddling from beyond the grave to try to reunite her and her ex-husband Joe, Edie is determined to leave Italy as soon as possible. But before she can, the villa starts to shed its mysterious secrets.

Who are the girls beside Anna in her childhood photos, and why has one of them been scratched out? Why does someone, or something, want them to leave the past untouched? The villa is a place where old ghosts feel at home, but does their legacy need to be laid to rest before Edie and Joe can move on…

The House By The Sea is an intense read. Edie is a bereaved mother constantly haunted by the regrets, grief, and ghost of her son. Edie has been separated from Joe for ten years following the death of their five year old son Daniel, for which she blames her recently deceased mother in law Anna DeLuca. Anna leaves her family villa in Sicily to both Joe and Edie, requiring both of them to travel to Sicily to sort out the legalities for the villa. The story that unfolds is told by Edie and has a multitude of elements to it with plenty of atmosphere, some chills, violence and intriguing twists.

In a sense, I found this to be a rather heavy book which required several pauses to finish. The villa is very old, neglected, and full of ghosts from memories past, giving the whole place a very eerie feeling. It is the type of book I cannot read late at night.

I like the initial tension between Joe and Edie as they reunite after a decade apart, a lot of unresolved grief, guilt and bitterness between them. As they work together to rebuild the house, these feelings soften. There are ghostly, creepy elements to the story and some of the events that occur are macabre and sinister.

The mystery of Anna is a very intriguing puzzle that Edie puts together as she realises that Anna is not the person she thought she was, and it is interesting seeing how Edie’s initial hatred of Anna softens and leads to understanding and acceptance. This means too that Edie can finally start to heal. She has been burdened with grief, loss and hatred which she is able to shed once the secrets, lies, cruelties, and jealousies are revealed, and the truth about Anna and events at the villa emerge.

I initially found Edie to be an incredibly biased narrator as she has held so much hatred towards Anna for so long, but I realise that at the core, Edie is a woman who is true and honest, but healing from an insurmountable hurt.

Joe is a very likeable character and it is heart warming to see how he comes alive in the vibrant Sicilian setting.

I found The House By The Sea to be action packed, though in some moments it felt like I was merely lurching from one incident to another without the chance to even breathe. In no way could this book ever be described as boring.

Have you read The House By The Sea? If so, tell me what you thought.

Goodreads & Amazon

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