“The House on Foster Hill” by Jamie Jo Wright – Book Review


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?

Set in small town Wisconsin, this novel is told via dual timelines with a decrepit old house as the linking factor.

March 1906 –  Ivy’s story

Ivy Thorpe, the daughter of a doctor, keeps a ‘death journal’. She records facts and feelings about the deceased so as to keep their memory alive.  Recently a young woman’s body was found in the hollowed out trunk of an old oak tree. Ivy feels great empathy toward the girl and after she learns that the young woman had recently given birth, Ivy is determined to learn the baby’s fate.  Ivy finds some diary entries written in the margins of an old copy of “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens. Could these be the writings of the young dead woman? Her investigations lead her to be viciously attacked – in Foster Hill House…

Ivy suffers a crisis of faith. How could He allow tragedy to strike such innocent victims?

Present day – Kaine’s story

Kaine Prescott, a young widowed social worker, has just arrived in Oakwood, Wisconsin. She has purchased an old house, sight unseen, and is attempting to start over after her husband’s death and the subsequent traumatic events.  She learns that the house she bought is much more rundown than she was led to believe. She also learns that her great-great-grandmother Ivy had ties to the old place.

Kaine meets some new friends in Wisconsin, but soon finds that her former stalker has followed her here. It begins with innocuous things like some daffodils left on her front step. Then things turn more nasty when her dead husband’s name is written on the window in red paint.

The townspeople have never liked Foster Hill House. For centuries there have been sightings of strange lights in the house as well as many testimonies of piano music emanating from the place.

Kaine finds some pages from “Great Expectations” beneath the floorboards in the bedroom.

As traumatic events in Kaine’s new life escalate, she too suffers from a a loss of faith.

“Foster Hill House is holding secrets…”

I’m not even a little bit ashamed that I chose this book for the cover. It’s great isn’t it? The title resonated with me as well because ‘Foster’ is a family name on my mother’s side.  The cover makes you assume a creepy suspenseful read – maybe even a ghost story. You’d be wrong.  This book is essentially a romantic suspense story with a Christian bent.  For those reasons it wasn’t totally to my taste, so fans of romantic suspense will have to take my personal opinions with a grain of salt.  As Bethany House is a publisher of Christian fiction, I should have been more cognizant of that fact when I requested this title.

I read the entire novel, so it did hold my interest. I liked the dual timelines.  Blending historical fiction with a modern day story is done a lot and it is a favourite plot device of mine.  In this case, contrary to my usual choice, I liked the modern day part of the story more. Kaine’s plight seemed more genuine to me than that of Ivy whose story seemed more contrived somehow.  The old house was  a character onto itself as it held so many dark secrets.

This is the author’s first novel and as such was quite well written. I did find it formulaic at times. The emphasis on physical beauty of the protagonists. The strong male protector and the vulnerable female… typical of romantic suspense.  I tire easily of mentions of smoldering glances, broad shoulders, muscular arms, etc. All in all, I would recommend this to fans of Christian romantic suspense, but to readers like myself, it fell short of expectations.

I was grateful to receive a digital copy of this novel from Bethany House via NetGalley for purposes of this review.

Jamie Jo Wright is the author of three novels and a few novellas. Her Christian faith strongly influences her writing. As does her love of history and old buildings and artifacts. She is married with two children and resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christian fiction, NetGalley, romantic suspense and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to “The House on Foster Hill” by Jamie Jo Wright – Book Review

  1. The cover got to me right away, and even the title felt a bit gothic, but it definitely doesn’t as if it would be to my taste. Glad I read your review so I didn’t blindly buy it on the cover alone (I do that sometimes, if it’s in a preferred genre).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. carhicks says:

    The blurb sounded very promising, but sometimes the romantic line is too formulaic like you said. I do enjoy romantic suspense from some authors, but not all. Blending together Christian fiction with romantic suspense does not sound easy, so I can see how it might become a bit much. Nice honest review Lynne.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. suzigun says:

    I read this a while ago and had no idea that there was such a thing as Christian fiction and I found this too overt for my liking. And I agree that a lot of aspects were quite formulaic.


  4. Oh yeah, a well-used plot device, and you are right, I’d tire of the romantic stuff very quickly myself. I do enjoy those dual timelines and usually prefer the historic one–a chance to go back in time, though unfortunately it didn’t sound well executed this time. Sorry it fell short of your expectations, but from the sound of it, would me also. Great review, Lynne. (And yes, love the cover!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always feel as though I’m being unfair to the author when I review a book in a genre that I don’t care for. I do strive to be fair… and honest to myself. Thanks for your support Virginia.


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