The New York Times bestselling author of Promise Not to Tell returns with a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable.
West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's fate, she discovers that she's not the only person who's desperately looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.
ABOUT THE BOOK :
Published by: Knopf Doubleday
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Find this book: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
ABOUT THE AUTHOR :
I was born in 1968 and grew up in my grandmother’s house in suburban Connecticut, where I was convinced a ghost named Virgil lived in the attic. I wrote my first short story in third grade. I graduated with a BA from Goddard College in 1991 and then studied poetry for a year in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. A poem turned into a story, which turned into a novel, and I decided to take some time to think about whether I wanted to write poetry or fiction. After bouncing around the country, I wound up back in Vermont, living in a cabin with no electricity, running water, or phone with my partner, Drea, while we built our own house. Over the years, I have been a house painter, farm worker, paste-up artist, Easter Bunny, pizza delivery person, homeless shelter staff member, and counselor for adults and kids with mental illness — I quit my last real job in 2000 to work on writing full time. In 2004, I gave birth to our daughter, Zella. These days, we’re living in an old Victorian in Montpelier, Vermont. Some neighbors think it looks like the Addams family house, which brings me immense pleasure.
THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :
It's been a while since I've read a really good scary story. Jennifer McMahon writes that kind you'd hope to hear around a fireplace on a wintry evening in Vermont...fitting since that's her personal surrounding. It's the perfect novel if you want a gothic mystery that's a page turner when you're alone some night or weekend. It simply draws you in and makes you feel as if you know the creaky floors of the old Victorian farmhouse you're walking about in, you can see the dense, craggy woods beyond the farmland, and you sense the presence of ghostly beings.
I've lived in the North Country of New Hampshire and Vermont and know very well the type of landscape, snow, rock formations and lonely old farmhouses Ms McMahon writes about, but even if you haven't, or aren't a native of that area, you can't help falling into the pace of this book. It's an old-fashioned gothic with a mystery that runs the gamut of several generations. It's creepier than a modern witch story because it seems more set in reality.
The characters are well drawn and vivid. The women in particular leap from the pages. Neurotic, deeply loving mothers, risk-takers, committed wives, these women are tough and tender at the same time. It's difficult not to identify with them and their heart-felt run for saving their children at all costs. The men characters are crafted more shadowy. While their emotions are told, they are not as strong as the women involved in the story.
If there's anything to complain about, it would be that I found it difficult to follow all the different voices and timeframes bouncing back and forth in the novel since I read it in ebook format. I find I loose the context when I read from ebooks. I don't think the same thing would have happened had I had the actual book in hand.
This is a great book with the perfect timing of a gothic, ghostly mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed it and strongly recommend it. Unlike anything else I've read this year. It's a book that kept my attention firmly in place to the end.
4.5 stars Deborah/TheBookishDame