Cover Image: The Caretakers

The Caretakers

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A book that wields a tale mixing past and present - this book turned out being a quick and satisfying read.

Toward the end the characters and their motives jumble momentarily and prevent me from giving this five stars.
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Isolated estates, tense family relationships and true crime documentaries. Nothing could be more perfect. I also adored the cover of The Caretakers which looks exactly like a still from one of Tessa Shepherd's films. Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

True crime documentaries have seen a major surge in popularity over the last few years, starting with Netflix's bombshell Making a Murderer in 2015.  Many of these documentaries are thrilling, shocking and emotive, meant to take their audience on a journey to a very specific point. In some cases it is to prove innocence, in others to put the system itself on trial. For all of them, however, there is a clear narrative arc that has to end somewhere. Often you can't help but wonder what comes next. What about the rest of these people's lives. Are they happy now or have the years in prison or on trial been too much? What about the families of the victims? Are they happy now that someone is behind bars or, in the days after, does it begin to feel like less of a victory? As the popularity of these types of films has grown, so have think pieces on their benefits and downsides. An audience is easy to excite but will also drop its latest hero as soon as a new one comes along. What does this mean for those whose lives have been laid bare? It's a very interesting choice by Eliza Maxwell to make this a part of her novel and although she can't provide all the answers, it might allow true crime fans a chance to think it over themselves.

Tessa Shepherd has helped free an innocent man, Oliver. She is riding the waves of success, even if her family life is still messy and anxiety waits for her around every corner. That is until Oliver seemingly goes on a violent rampage, implicating her, and her mother unexpectedly dies. Now she has to not only face her twin sister, but also confront the interest of the media and police and her own family's past. It's a lot for one woman to shoulder but as she begins to unravel she also begins to discover the truth. I found Tessa to be a great protagonist. Her eye for a story, for a way to frame a scene, adds a lovely, meta-esque layer to The Caretakers that makes us consider how we look at things. Although The Caretakers is fast-paced, Maxwell takes the time to let the story's emotional beats resonate with the reader. Most fascinating was the relationship between Tessa and her sister, Margot, as well as the two sisters who act as caretakers, which is captured in glances, gestures and the venomous language only two sisters can unleash on each other.

This is my first book by Eliza Maxwell but I was completely engrossed in The Caretakers. I read it within an evening, fully aware I had work in the morning but unwilling to stop reading. Maxwell brings both Suspense and a sense of Magical Realism to her novel, which intertwine beautifully. The descriptions of Fallbrook, the crumbling estate with a secret, were stunning and allow both the reader and Tessa a little escape from the stress of the outside world. Maxwell also approaches both Oliver's case and Tessa's mental health with the right care and awareness, thereby avoiding a sense of sensationalism or exploitation of such personal topics. The twists and turns come fast in the last quarter of The Caretakers, making for a thrilling finale which feels earned. I saw some of them coming while others felt like a surprise. Maxwell ends her novel with a note of unease, which I myself very much enjoyed. Although books, like true crime documentaries, do come to an end, that doesn't always mean the whole story has been told. 

I blazed right through The Caretakers and still find myself thinking about Fallbrook and its lushes woods and dark history. Maxwell has written a fast-paced, thrilling suspense novel perfect for fans of true crime and those with a love for Magical Realism.
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I have read and loved this author’s work before and this one is no exception. It’s my new favorite.

Told from two time lines. I love books that do that. This book is intense, emotional and a page turner. One you will love from start to finish. It has all the feels for you. A drama/thriller/women’s fiction at it’s very best. 

Well developed and likable characters. Great descriptions that make you feel like you are right there. Kept me on edge in many places. I enjoyed this book so much and think it’s the author’s best work yet. 

Thank you to #NetGalley, #ElizaMaxwell, #LakeUnion for this ARC. This is my own review.

A 5 star and highest recommendation..
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***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing!***

I was not sure that I was going to like this one when I first started it. I liked Tessa as the narrating character but the story just didn’t grab me at first. Tessa was so real. She had flaws and had made mistakes, she was open with these things and wanted to escape from it. I like characters that feel like real people and Tessa did. This book weaves three different stories that all center on the idea of justice, family and the damage that the past can do to the present.

The first storyline is of Oliver Barlowe. Tessa did a documentary about his conviction for rape and murder. She didn’t go into the project with any particular agenda but along the way she began to believe that Oliver was innocent. And so the documentary ended up leading to a new trial where he was released. But then, a year or so later, he kidnaps and murders the daughter of the police chief. There’s no doubt he did it this time because he made a video admitting it. This throws Tessa into an unwelcome spotlight as she has to examine whether or not she was wrong the first time. And even if she wasn’t wrong about his innocence then, she can’t deny that he’s a murderer now.

Then we have the story of Tessa and her sister Margo. Something really terrible happened when they were newly college-aged that yanked Tessa out of her sister’s life. The death of their mother forces the two of them to confront that past and the reasons why neither one reached out to bridge the gap.

Finally, we have the story of the forgotten family homestead. Again it is a place where awful things have happened. Things that just about everyone would love to forget. But when Tessa runs there to hide from public pressure about Oliver, she can’t resist pressing into the history and trying to find out the truth.

At first, I wasn’t in love with the story about Fallbrook. I kept hoping we’d hear more about Oliver instead, but in the end that story won me over. It chilled me, it touched me, and then it shocked me. Similarly the story of Tessa and her sister. At first I didn’t really care and thought it didn’t belong in the book at all. But as the book went on I was drawn into the tale and it took on a much greater significance to the overall story.

I read the last 140 pages of this book in one sitting. I was so entranced by it that I simply couldn’t put it down. I loved how the three storylines ended up coming together and each one was given more gravity and significance together than it did on its own. I loved it.
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What They Say.....Filmmaker Tessa Shepherd helped free a man she believed was wrongly imprisoned for murder. When he kills again, Tessa’s life is upended.
She’s reeling with guilt, her reputation destroyed. Worse, Tessa’s mother has unexpectedly passed away, and her sister, Margot, turns on her after tensions from their past escalate. Hounded by a bullying press, Tessa needs an escape. That’s when she learns of a strange inheritance bequeathed by her mother: a derelict and isolated estate known as Fallbrook. It seems like the perfect refuge.

A crumbling monument to a gruesome history, the mansion has been abandoned by all but two elderly sisters retained as caretakers. They are also guardians of all its mysteries. As the house starts revealing its dark secrets, Tessa must face her fears and right the wrongs of her past to save herself and her relationship with Margot. But nothing and no one at Fallbrook are what they seem.

What I Say....This was a book that felt pretty timely in our current world.  True crime is one of my favorite genres and there are so many great documentaries, podcasts, and news stories out there.  It was interesting to read a book where the main character is the creator of this type of entertainment.

There were a lot of interesting twists and turns in this book.  Tessa has an uneasy relationship with her sister for unshared reasons, but they now have a home left to them by their estranged mother.

Tess helps to free a man she believes was wrongfully accused of murder.  But once he's out, Tess moves onto her next project and loses touch with him.  It's interesting to see the impact of a man who was wrongfully accused trying to reacclimate to the world that has moved on from him, trying to catch up to all of his missing years - unsuccessfully.  This pressure leads him to kill again and Tessa is devastated.  She wants nothing more than to escape.

But Tessa doesn't have anywhere to go.  She's not speaking to her sister - or rather, her sister isn't speaking to her, and her mother has died.  But when they find out their mother was adopted and has now left them a crumbling creepy house, it seems like the perfect place to escape to.  

Of course what crumbling house with a murderous past would be complete without two creepy sisters who are the caretakers?  Deidre and Kitty live in a cabin on the property, and are just spooky enough to both scare and comfort Tess.

I always love the past-present style of writing, but in this book, I liked the story of the past much more than the story of the present.  That was much more interesting than the bickering between Margot and Tessa.  Overall, I give this book four stars - the gothic past was just much more interesting than the present.
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Tessa is a filmmaker who helped exonerate a convicted murderer that she believed had been wrongly accused. Things turn haywire after the ex-convict is suspected of another murder. Needless to say, a lot of people are angry at Tessa. On the other hand, she is battling with the guilt of possibly having helped a dangerous criminal. This is what led her to the derelict property that she inherited from her mother. Although the property has Caretakers, it stands in neglect and holds secrets that threaten everyone around it.

This story is narrated in two timelines. I was intrigued by Tessa’s story and the ex-convict. On the other hand, the second timeline held secrets of the house from decades ago. At first, I struggled to keep track of this story-line and the many characters but soon, I found myself completely immersed in the past. The Caretakers, two old women in their 80s who were hiding decades old secrets, fascinated me.

This was an atmospheric read. The old, crumbling property with its secrets added a gothic vibe. At some point, I expected a lady in white to start floating down the stairs. I couldn’t believe that Tessa wanted to stay in that house. This setting definitely did add to the heaviness that loomed over the narrative creating a foreboding feeling.

This is a story about secrets, lies, betrayal, estranged families. At times, it felt like there was a lot going on in the story. Luckily, it never got confusing and the pieces of the puzzle eventually all slid into place. Definitely recommended to fans of atmospheric thrillers.
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Sisters! If you’ve got one, you know what I’m talking about. As for me, I ruined mine’s life when I was born. She continually tried to get rid of me. Seriously. Locked me in the refrigerator back in the olden days when they locked when closed (you couldn’t just push them open from the inside). Apparently, I fit inside perfectly. She pushed me down a hill in a cardboard box into rush hour traffic. Told me Indians were in the barn and waiting for darkness to come scalp me. Anyway, you get the point. Sisters can be huge pains in the you know what. 

Don’t want to lead you astray. This book is not a comedy. Sisters can be many things.

Tessa Shepherd has just made a mistake. A big one. She filmed a documentary about a murderer who was wrongly accused. After her film helps to get him released, he kidnaps the daughter of the police officer who convicted him and implies that Tessa knew the plan all along. She is hounded by the press but cannot call the one person she needs to share her side of the story with… her twin sister. They have not spoken in years.

Tessa’s mother dies suddenly. During the reading of the will, she and her sister find that their Mother was not who they thought she was. They now own a once beautiful, magnificent home that is now ruined and decaying.  A home where her Mother’s entire family was murdered when she was just a baby. 

In an attempt to hide from the press and the murderer, Tessa goes there only to find that the caretakers are two elderly sisters. One of them does not want her there and they don’t seem to be telling Tessa the truth about her family. Tessa vows to get to the bottom of the story, but will she be able to find the truth about her family before time runs out?

“The Caretakers” was a great story that blended old, family secrets with new ones and had a touch of the supernatural. Great imagery of the old house, forest and care taker’s cottage. It had some good twists and turns while getting to the end.

Oh, and by the way, it’s all good now. We laugh about my sister’s attempts to strike me from her life. She is my best friend. 

Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Psychological Thrillers, Kidnapping, Family Secrets, Supernatural
Cover: Perfect
Rating: 4 stars
Source:  I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. Thank you for the opportunity to read this great book!
#TheCaretakers #NetGalley
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I hadn't read any Eliza Maxwell book before this one so I had no clue what to expect. But knowing how much I love thrillers something told me I would love this and so I did. I would recommend this one to everybody who enjoys thrillers. For some reason, I don't really know why I just loved the cover of this book. I kind of judged the book by its cover while requesting for it, which I know is bad, but I'm glad I did for this one.
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What do you do when your life comes crashing down? The main character Tessa Shepard retreated to her inheritance a estate left to her by her mother. But the estate has a secret.
The plot is divided into two stories.And also the relationship with her twin. She’s been driven to the estate for a reason.
Thank you,
#Netgalley,#Eliza Maxwell, And #Lake Union Publishing
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Tessa Shepherd's film may have taken the world by storm and freed a seemingly innocent man from prison. Right after his release, he kidnaps the daughter of a law enforcement agent who put him behind bars. He tells police that Tessa holds the keys to the woman's location, and he'll kill her if they don't find her soon. Tessa becomes one of the most hated people on the planet. When reporters show up at her mother's funeral, it's too much. Tessa learns her mom owned a rundown estate home and flees to it.

There, she learns that the manor home is tended to by a couple of elderly women. One wants Tessa and uncover the truth. There's a mystery to solve, but Tessa's lost the confidence to unravel the murder that destroyed a family and turned Fallbrook into crumbling ruins. She also learns that she's the next if she can't figure out where the girl is being held.

There are two mysteries going on in The Caretakers. You have the past and what led to the murders of Tessa's ancestors. There's also the missing young woman and whether Tessa will figure out where she is in time. All of this goes on while Tessa is trying to decide what to do with her life. After helping release a killer, she's not eager to start a new film. It's not like anyone will hire her anyway.

The story flips back from past to present and back. It's easy to keep up with the changes as present is told from Tessa's point of view while the past is told by one of the elderly caretakers. The changes were seamless and kept me engaged.

The mysteries actually had a few surprises. I didn't see some of the twists coming and that was refreshing. If you want a great story for a hot summer's day, you can't go wrong with Eliza Maxwell's latest.
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Successful documentary-maker Tessa was convinced that Oliver Barlow was innocent of murder. So much so that she helped to free him from jail. But eighteen months later, everything changes when Oliver kills again. Desperate to escape from her role in the crime, and reeling from her own personal tragedy, Tessa is drawn to Fallbrook - a crumbling estate that forms part of a mysterious inheritance. But at Fallbrook, nothing is as it seems, and Tessa is soon to find out just how dark some family secrets can be...

A secret inheritance. Ghosts. A manhunt. Familicide. A mysterious key. Dementia. A hidden adoption. Estranged siblings. A kidnapping. An evil stepmother. A decaying mansion, full of secrets... Yep, you get everything but the kitchen sink with this one. And it's as bonkers as it sounds!

So, you have two narrators in this, Tessa and Kitty. You know who Tessa is immediately, but it takes a while for Kitty's role in things to become clear, which is pretty confusing at the start of the book. But as long as you ignore this and go with it, it all becomes clear and everyones connections are eventually revealed. That being said, there are quite a lot of plot threads in this one, so it does take a bit of mental gymnastics to work out who fits where. Personally, my favourite plot line was definitely Kitty's history of Fallbrook - I would read a book of that alone if I'm honest! I enjoyed pretty much all of the other plot lines, with the exception of one: the estrangement between Tessa and her sister Margot. You spend 95% of the book being told over and over about this awful thing Tessa did that nearly killed Margot, and how it’s haunted Tessa for her whole life, and you wait and wait for the big reveal and then... nothing. It’s completely underwhelming and quite frankly ridiculous that neither of them could be bothered to have a two minute conversation that would have prevented the whole estrangement. A pointless addition to create a sense of drama, which was really not needed with everything else going on! 

At times, I was completely enthralled. Other times, I was a bit bemused by some of the turn of events. Yes, this is probably one of those books were a few plot lines could have been cut. And yes, bits of it were just bizarre! But I for one really enjoyed it! I also am a massive fan of Maxwell's writing style, and so I will definitely be adding her to my list of authors to look out for!

Disclaimer - I was fortunate enough to receive an advance reading copy from NetGalley. This has not affected my review in any way, and all opinions are my own.
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Day 19 of the scavenger hunt of the shelves #scavengeyourshelves - book with multiple points of view! .
Review of “the caretakers by @elizamaxwellwrites “ .
“A lie told out of kindness is less of a sin than the cruelty of a harsh truth.”
In this story there are two story lines and 3 POVs. We have Tess the filmmaker who has used her skills to prove a wrongly accused man of being innocent and wrong by the system. Until a year after being released , he kills again making her career spiral out of reach. In the mist of all this craziness her mother passes away leaving a slue of secrets to uncover and a house with live in caretakers. The caretakers, two sisters, which hold the secrets to Fallbrook and it’s bloody past. The story is filled with so many juicy secrets. I love how Tessa is just a Nancy drew in this book. We don’t need cops we can figure this out on our own. The only down side I had to this story was the ending of the caretakers story which I felt was just thrown at you. While Tessa’s dramatized life had a nice build up. .
Thank you to @netgalley @elizamaxwellwrites @lakeunionauthors 
For this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Posting on 5/19 
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The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell tells the story of documentary filmmaker, Tessa Shepard, who is thrust in the spotlight after the man who she helped set free with her latest documentary is caught committing another crime. To make matters worse, Tessa suffers the unexpected loss of her mother and is also forced to face her sister, with who she has a strained relationship with over the years. After her mother's passing, she also learns that she has inherited an abandoned estate, Fallbrook, that was left to her mother. Looking for refuge from both the press and the ongoing investigation from her documentary, she heads to Fallbrook. Not everything is as it seems and soon secrets and tragedies from the past are unveiled, and soon come to head with the present.

The characters were well-developed and the story is told from both present and past tense. By the end, there were so many twists and turns, I almost had a hard time keeping it straight. Luckily, everything seems to come together nicely at the end. I almost enjoyed the mystery into the past more than the present!

Overall, this was a great read from this author!
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Reeling with guilt and in the aftermath of a destroyed reputation, and the death of her mother, Tessa takes refuge at an isolated estate, which is cared for by two elderly sisters. Fallbrook has been left to Tessa in her mother’s will and she hopes to get away from the publicity surrounding a huge lapse of judgement. As a filmmaker she helped free a man she believed was wrongly imprisoned for murder. After he’s freed, he kills again. Without her normal support network, she feels getting away is her only option. Since their mother’s death, tensions from the past have ruined her relationship with her sister Margot. So Fallbrook is all she has, but all lonely old estates have secrets. The caretaking elderly sisters are looking after Tess’s family past. Will this turn out to be the haven Tessa needs or will the need to find answers create even more problems? 

I found this a very atmospheric and absorbing read. From time to time I would be interrupted and would find out I wasn’t in a crumbling mansion house full of secrets. Essentially we have two sets of sisters. Tessa and Margot used to be the best of friends, as close as twins can be. They last spoke twenty years ago. Margot’s husband Ben, used to be Tessa’s boyfriend and the one person she could talk to. As Tessa is assailed by anxiety, hospitalised and medicated, she tries to appeal to Ben to intercede with her sister. At Fallbrook there is Deirdre who is practical and forthright. She looks after Kitty who is now struggling with dementia. They are not just responsible for the crumbling mansion building, but its history and secrets. However, far from being task to keep the place alive they are tasked with watching it and all its secrets crumble to the ground and be forgotten. 

The family history is a gruesome one. There’s kidnapping, abuse within the family not to mention Kitty’s dementia. I liked the idea of making her the custodian of the stories, knowing that dementia patients are more often connected with their past than their present made this even more poignant for me. There’s a question in the reader at first over whether she can remember these events or are they part of her delusions? Despite such distressing subjects, Maxwell has a very poetic way of writing around them: 

‘ the screams have long since died away. The bloodstains, like the memories, have faded with time’. 

As a reader I found myself more engaged with these older stories, than the ongoing conflict in the present. I wanted to unearth more and that kept me reading. This seems to sit in that realm of gothic fiction that contains: narrators recent distress, old gothic mansion, family secrets and younger generation coming along to unearth them. I’ve read a few of these, but I enjoyed this one immensely. It It has just the right pace of revelations and the spooky atmosphere was perfection.
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thanks to net galley for this advanced copy of the Caretakers. I really enjoyed this thrilling story. it starts out slow, but it really builds well. I would read more by Eliza Maxwell.
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Really enjoyed reading this book. Everything about it, from the wonderful writing, the believable characters, to the exceptionally executed plot twists, is lovable. The descriptions are vivid and the emotions of the characters are beautifully brought to life. Eliza Maxwell is a talented author and I can't wait to read more books by her!
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To say that I enjoyed this book would be an understatement. I was originally drawn in by the gorgeously atmouspheric cover. I mean really, who wouldn't be. I wanted to climb right into the story and into that misty green scenery.

This book follows three different stories with one main similarity, Tessa.

Tessa is a documentary film maker who likes to uncover the truth. The story starts with a man just getting out of prison thanks to a ducumentary Tessa has made about his false imprisonment. This particular story takes an interesting turn and Tessa is dragged back into it when a girl is kidnapped and the real story is told.

We also get a look into Tessa's personal life and the relationship with here estranged sister. Tessa is forced to face the past and see things as they really happened. Along with this comes the knowledge that there was more to their mothers life than they ever knew.

Most interestingly, we get the story of Deirdre and Kitty. This was my favorite story to read about, and I'm not going to tell you anything about it. You need to read about it yourself and get all the information. Sorry. I promise you won't regret it. 

This book was fantastically written. The atmousphere that drew me in from the cover, translated over to the story. I was completely drawn in and loved every minute of it. I highly suggest this book to anyone who likes a good mystery/thriller and can not wait to get started on the other books this author has written. If they are as atmouspheric as this one, I may have found a new favorite. 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Publishers for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.
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The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell is a suspense novel about human tragedy and family ties, that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Tessa Shepherd is a dedicated filmmaker and her recent production helped to free a man who she believed to be wrongly convicted. However, when suddenly he kidnaps and kills a young woman, Tessa's life comes crashing down. Trying to get away from the media mayhem and the family tragedy, she decides to seek for shelter in the long forgotten estate she inherited from her mother. But she's yet to learn that this house also hides a long forgotten secret.

I don't read thrillers often but the summary of The Caretakers piqued my interest right away, because I have a weakness for old mansions and family mysteries. I have to say that the book didn't fully meet my expectations, but it was certainly a thrilling read.

The plot is divided into two stories, one told from Tessa's point of view and regarding her life, her relationship with her twin sister and the unexpected upheaval caused by her documentary; and the second told from Kitty's point of view, focused on the old Fallbrook mansion and its dark story. The book has a lot of unexpected twists and turns, that definitely keep things interesting and chilling, at times. And despite it being a thriller, the heart of the story is the strength of the family bonds and how a person is able to keep even the darkest secrets in order to protect people they care about. I really liked that the story had a lot of layers, and even if it may seem a bit confusing at first, it all slowly unravels as you keep on reading.

However, sometimes I wished that the characters and both stories were more developed. It feels like this book is very much plot driven, but not fully knowing the characters didn't allow me to care for them as much as I could. In additon, personally I didn't really see any connection between the two stories, other then that they were linked through the characters of Tessa. I even thought that both plot lines could make for very interesting separate novels, because there was a lot of room for further development.

All in all, I would recommend The Caretakers if you like thriller and suspense or even novels about family secrets, but with a twist. It's a fast-paced, surprising and entertaining read, and the palpable tense atmosphere makes it a real page-turner.
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loved every aspect of this book, from the believable and varied characters, to the many surprises that made me stop a moment to say, “oh, my gosh!” to the wonderful use of language throughout. In describing the vagaries of Kitty and Deidre’s ability to recall the past, especially Kitty’s, the author wrote, “Truth and memory are slippery animals that creep around them these days, haunting the shadows then fading away again.”

At another point when Kitty has said something that has upset her sister, Kitty thinks about how she would like to take those words back. The moment is described this way, “She’d eat them raw and choke on their bitterness if she could erase the hurt on her sister’s face.”

This is definitely a five star book, and I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy psychological suspense.
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Eliza Maxwell's 'The Caretakers' is aptly described as "chilling" and I may add, unsettling too. It's an excellent read, but prepare to be on edge.

Filmmaker Tessa Richardson's career is gaining momentum until the subject of her latest documentary, a man she helped free from prison, kills again. In quick succession, her mother passes away unexpectedly and her sister becomes hostile and challenging. 

In the aftermath of such terrible circumstances, Tessa discovers she's inherited a crumbling mansion. Seeking refuge in its isolation, she soon discovers its macabre history may not provide the solace she desperately needs. 

The promise of an old mansion full of macabre secrets immediately attracted me to Maxwell's novel, and it didn't disappoint. I initially felt curious if 'The Caretakers' would be another version of Amy Lloyd's excellent 'The Innocent Wife," but this was no copycat tale of a documentary maker and a subject who isn't what they seem. 

Eliza Maxwell's ability to convey Tessa's horror, anxiety and emotion through her writing was brilliant. I was instantly drawn into the story, tense with anticipation and compelled to read into the night. Her descriptions of Fallbrook are so vivid, I could virtually see and smell the deteriorating mansion.

If you're in the mood for a thrilling, disconcerting read then I implore you to pick up "The Caretakers." Ideal for a grey afternoon or late night binge, this is one book you don't want to abandon in your 'to be read' pile.
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