Reviewed by Tori
Ivy Thorpe is a memory keeper of sorts. Still in mourning over the loss of her brother, Ivy helps her father with his coroner duties while making sure the dead that pass through his office are named and remembered. When a young woman is found dead in a tree trunk, Ivy makes it her mission to discover the girl’s name, especially when they learn she had recently bore a child. As the woman was found on the Foster estate, Ivy heads to the main house to look for the baby, only to find herself in trouble when she discovers she’s not the only one on the house.
A century later, Kaine Prescott buys Foster Hill sight unseen two years after her husband passed. Unable to convince the police he was murdered and that she is now being stalked by his killer, she decides to move to Wisconsin to start anew. As she pulls up to her new home, she discovers her quaint fixer-upper is more a teardown and let’s rebuild but determined to make a go of it, Kaine begins repairs. Some light research on the home reveals a dark past with a long reach and Kaine realizes she has nowhere left to hide.
As Kaine and Ivy work to solve the mysteries surrounding them, each woman finds that blood is thicker than water and some people will do anything to keep the past where it belongs…in the past.
I picked up The House on Foster Hill on a whim because who doesn’t like a romantic suspense horror story about a creepy gothic home with a sinister mystery attached to it? Jaime Jo Wright’s debut is an intriguing mystery that deals with family, faith, and how the past can heavily influence the future.The story unfolds in the past and present when two women, born a century apart, attempt to unravel the mysteries behind the house on Foster Hill. Along with the atmosphere and sinister undertones, there are two romances flavored with a religious inspirational tone. The main message of the story, in my opinion, seems to be that faith will always guide us to salvation in spite of our circumstances.
The beginning chapters are intriguing, layered with a blend of tension and anticipation as Wright sets up the story arc and main characters. We are introduced to Ivy and Kaine, our leads, learning their histories and the events that led them to now. The switching from past to present is relatively smooth with few missteps while the dual narrative tries to keep the readers on the right path.
Wright tosses us in with Ivy and her father headed to a crime scene. Ivy is a compelling character whose curious nature, a strong sense of justice, and unconventional ways instantly peak your curiosity. Unofficially assisting her father with his autopsies gives Ivy a bittersweet view of life and death. Her need to give the dead dignity by making sure they’re named and remembered is an interesting idea that highlights Ivy’s compassion. I wish Kaine could have been as fleshed out as Ivy. We meet her after her traumatic experience so there is a feeling of disconnection from the beginning. Kaine is very closed off, making it hard to connect with her. It takes a majority of the story for her layers to peel back though I will say her emotional grid is as one would expect for everything she has and is experiencing. While Ivy revealed organically, Kaine felt more a laborious.
After a few chapters, Wright seems to lose momentum and the story goes from being a hauntingly suspenseful to a faith-driven romance with a mysterious element. There are a plethora of plotlines which clutter the story as they all compete against one another for top billing. Both Ivy and Kaine’s romances are second chances; finding love after tragic losses. Again, Ivy’s evolution story feels natural while Kaine’s felt forced and off-kilter.
Wright leads us to the end, revealing the main catalyst behind the mystery(s) and hammering out all the details of the foster family tree and how it connects Kaine and Ivy. She becomes a little long winded here, dragging out the finale and the epilogue.
The House on Foster Hill is a solid start to what is sure to be a prolific writing career for Wright.