Book Review: The House Sitter by Jill Barry

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Title - The House Sitter
Author - Jill Barry
Publication Date - July 20th 2016
Publisher - Crooked Cat Publishing
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided by publisher via NetGalley)
Pages - 230

The Blurb
How much should you entrust to your house sitter? Your dog? Your clothes and jewellery? Your husband?

When Suzanne and Eddie decide to move house, they neglect to confide in their friend and house sitter, Ruth. Against the dramatic landscape of mid-Wales, a series of unfortunate events seem destined to ruin the couple's plans, especially when they go away, leaving Ruth in charge.

A tenacious estate agent and a prospective purchaser conspire to unravel the disturbing, malicious stunts. But how does a woman nursing a knee problem move so stealthily? Does she have an accomplice? Or is something far more sinister going on?

The House Sitter is multi-published author Jill Barry's first venture into fiction's dark side, although she admits the novel includes a romantic frisson. But it is Ruth's creepy, manipulative intrusion into her friends' lives driving the story towards its near-fatal conclusion.

When I spotted Jill Barry's The House Sitter available to request on NetGalley, it caught my imagination immediately. The cover looked incredibly sinister and once I'd read the blurb I certainly felt that this was a book I wanted to add to my to-read pile. I've not read a single previous book by author Jill Barry before this point, but I couldn't wait to get started. I was curious as to what exactly would be taking place between the pages of this book and knew that Ruth sounded like the sort of character I really wanted to meet.

In The House Sitter by Jill Barry, readers are introduced to Suzanne and Eddie. Desperate to be closer to their family and worried about the bitter cold that the Welsh winter brought with it each year, selling their home The Sugar House and finding somewhere more comfortable was definitely on the cards. That is, of course, until Ruth, their long-time friend and house sitter, stumbles upon the 'for sale' sign after being summoned to the house for the news to be broken and really doesn't know quite how to take the shocking news.

It was evident from pretty early on in this book that there was something not quite right with dear Ruth Morgan. From the moment the selling of the house is mentioned, this novel begins its slippery downward spiral into hysteria and desperation, and the author really allows the true nature and intent of Ruth Morgan to shine through. I read about Ruth with a strange sort of prickling of my skin because there was something so 'off' with her, but it was one of those things that you're never able to quite put your finger on in order to understand what it is that is making you feel so unsettled. I read and watched Ruth incredibly keenly within this book, desperately trying to figure out what was going on in that mind of hers. She appeared incredibly vindictive and spiteful, and rather menacing too. Having said all of this, and having portrayed Ruth as this evil being, I still found her to be utterly compelling in how she presented herself not only to Suzanne and Eddie her close friends, but to the other characters who enter this novel too. It was, in a strange sort of way, fascinating.

It's not only Ruth Morgan who we meet in this book though. Suzanne and Eddie as characters were well-rounded and I thoroughly enjoyed following along on their journey of the sale of their home. Barry's descriptions of The Sugar House and the location of Wales itself for that matter were vivid and real, taking me right there to the action. It felt rugged and windswept and hit the nail right on the end in creating a tight and menacing atmosphere for this story to unravel within. As the sale of their home progressed, I read in shock as a collection of nasty events took place in order to halt any prospective buyers from moving forward. It was clever and spiteful and I wasn't quite sure of what to believe at some points, due to the madness of what was happening. While Suzanne and Eddie head off to view homes to perhaps consider moving into in the future, Ruth Morgan takes over the running of The Sugar House and things really begin to take a turn for the worst. When estate agent Bethan and prospective buyer Ray step onto the scene, the pace really bounces up a peg or two and I was excited to see how Ruth and these newcomers would collide. It seemed Ruth Morgan was intent on getting what she wanted, and she refused to let anyone stand in her way, no matter what the cost.

Overall, The House Sitter by Jill Barry was a tense and chilling read, urging readers to question the motives behind everyone and everything. There's a consequence for every action we choose to make in life, it all depends on which choice we make and how hungry we are for results. Ruth Morgan is definitely a character who'll stay with me for a long time to come. I only wish that the ending of this novel had come about later, for I felt it arrived a little too abruptly for me. Besides that, I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a spine-chilling read with an undercurrent of mystery and deceit.

Becca's Books is awarding The House Sitter by Jill Barry with four of my bookish cupcakes. Special thanks to Crooked Cat Publishing and Jill Barry for providing me with a review copy of The House Sitter in exchange for a fair and honest review.

About the author
Jill's contemporary and historical romantic novels have topped several Kindle charts. 'A Life Less Lonely' has received praise for its sensitivity and another contemporary romance, 'Love on the Menu,' set in beautiful Bath, brims over with wedding food and fun. 'Homefront,' set in WW2 and based on a real life story, tells how one family win their own battle. Jill isn't afraid to tackle difficult issues but often beguiles her readers with scrumptious food descriptions and touches of gentle humour. Her latest novel, 'The House Sitter,' takes us on a different journey and Jill hopes to attract new readers as well as those who enjoy her romantic fiction. You can find Jill Barry on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

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