If you got the reference in the title, you’re my friend forever!
Title: The Uninvited
Author: J. A. Baker
Publisher: Bloodhound Books
Date of publication: November 2018
A fragile woman. An unwelcome intruder. A house full of secrets.
Faye and her husband Hugh have had a traumatic year. Wanting to start again, the couple decide to buy a large rundown property, Cross House in a village in North Yorkshire, hoping to leave the past behind them.
However, the tranquillity is soon ruined when Faye begins to awake, every night, to the sound of somebody creeping around the bedroom. She tries to explain it to Hugh, frightened for the safety of their children Aiden and Poppy, but Hugh dismisses her claims, thinking she is heading for another breakdown.
But when Faye discovers some diaries that contain secrets about the family that lived in the house before them, she starts to wonder if the intruder might be closer to home than she first thought.
Obsessed with finding answers, Faye is determined to learn about the Wentworth family, a fractured family with a tragic past.
And when she discovers that Hilary Wentworth fell to her death down the stairs in Cross House, Faye realises she is in mortal danger…
Nothing better to start afresh than a new house! Right? I can’t say the contrary, I moved a few weeks ago and couldn’t be happier. My dogs and myself have been through what Faye, Hugh and their kids experienced! The boxes, the mess, the planning of everything… But the similarities end here. I moved to a smaller place, while they fulfilled their dream of a big family house in a small village, ready to give Cross House a new life. Also, no big drama forced me to get away, I just wanted to be close to the airport, haha! The novel quickly indicates that something happened, something so traumatizing that Faye still bears scars of it on her mind.
I immediately felt good with this family. It was easy to imagine them, their personalities being defined pretty early in the book. Faye appeared to me to be fragile, vulnerable, like a precious glass. Told from her voice, the narration is tinged with a wary undertone. Not just the worry of a woman, wife and mother about to embark on a new adventure, no, it runs deeper than this. Names from the past are dropped before we leave their previous home and a sort trepidation took hold of me. Along it came questions. What I love about first-person narration is that you have no other choice than to rely on the character who is seeing, thinking, watching. You don’t have any other way to experience what the book holds, which makes things exciting and dangerous. Can we really trust what we’re told? Unreliable characters are my favourite. I had a feeling Faye would take me places. I didn’t know how right I was!
A new house, a new place; it can be spooky, especially when you’re settling in an old house (gosh I am so glad I moved to a newly-built apartment!!!). What did the house see with its previous owners? Who walked the corridors? Who took a shower right where you stand in the morning? I know myself, those thoughts would definitely cross my mind should I find myself in Faye’s situation. I was surprised that from the excitement of the first pages and the deal on the house, she rapidly got down to seeing the house in a different light. But isn’t what sleep-deprivation and the tasks that come with moving do?
If the title was an invitation to lose some sleep, I admit I didn’t see the effect coming until I had the wonderful idea to read The Uninvited at night! Have you ever woken up with the feeling someone was in your room? I did. Always have hated it. I like to be alone!!! My biggest surprise was to truly live this awfully nightmare with Faye. In fact, the entire book had me walking on the line between real and … whatever else is here. Now, I am a non-believer in supernatural things unless it’s in Buffy the vampire slayer, but there were enough details in what Faye felt, looked, imagined(?) that I was intrigued and had no other choice than to depend on her to find out the truth. I didn’t agree with all her decisions and sometimes I rolled my eyes at her actions, frantic and desperate, undermining what she was trying to express to her husband. I couldn’t help but understand his reluctance to trust his wife. I mean, her history means she is prone to stress and we all know what it does to our brain. But … But I wasn’t entirely convinced. After all, I was with Faye when something breathed near her… Just the thought of it makes me shiver! I took a step back and wondered how I would react. No idea, and I don’t want to know!!!
The writing invites the mind to wonder, to fight with reason. I didn’t find anything too unbelievable, this is why I liked reading this novel. Had it been too far-fetched I would have turned my back on it. But the combination of hard facts, sunlight, previous traumas, hints, and the constant need to protect this family had be gripped to my Kindle until the end.
While weird things happen, real and tangible events occur too! Old diaries that spooked me as much as what the night held, for example. I really enjoyed the balance the author put in her novel so the reader can never be sure of what’s happening.
Chasing the past and unearthing events is challenging, but Cross House is worth it. Old and once so grand, it holds the key to a family mystery and oh I can’t resist this kind of secrets frozen in time. The author did a great job at throwing red-herrings, hints, and other obstacles to keep you firmly on that blurry line of what could be and what is. I was happy to see part of my theory validated while getting a couple of surprises.
The Uninvited is a good novel to grab on a cold night if you’re looking for a compelling story with a door to escape reality…or slam it on your face!
ps: COVER LOVE.
You can grab your copy here!
J.A.BAKER was born and brought up in North East England and has had a love of language for as long as she can remember.
She has a love of local history and genealogy and enjoys reading many genres of books but is an addict of psychological thrillers.
In December 2016 she was signed by Bloodhound Books who published Undercurrent.
Her second novel, Her Dark Retreat was published in October 2017 and The Other Mother was published in December 2017. Her fourth novel, Finding Eva was published in August 2018.
J.A. Baker has four grown up children and one grandchild. She lives in a village near the river with her husband and madcap dog and when not working part time in a primary school, she spends her days trying to think up new and inventive ways of murdering people.
She can be reached on any of the links below and loves hearing from readers.