Monday, September 30, 2019

The Invited - Jennifer McMahon

Summary: In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and their teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home--wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks--she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie's descendants, three generations of "Breckenridge women," each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day. (Summary and pic from

My Review: I always love a good ghost story. Paranormal is fun, is it not? And while I have not personally gone ghost hunting or anything of that sort (I’m too scared) I am one of those people who enjoy lots of paranormal outlets—books, podcasts, TV shows, etc. I know I’m not alone here. I’m part of a Facebook group that is linked to a podcast I enjoy and there are all kinds of paranormal-loving weirdos on there. Millions. So chances are, maybe you like ghosts, too?

This was a fun ghost story. At first I wasn’t sure what to expect, as it seems that so many times I pick up a book I think might be about a ghost (okay, not like ALL the time) but it ends up having a perfectly normal explanation. What fun is that? If I’m reading a ghost story, I expect it to be about ghosts! When I was in fourth grade I remember reading Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn. It was one of my faves and I know I checked it out a lot, but this particular time I was reading when I was supposed to be doing long division (which I can no longer do, even in a pinch) and my teacher came up and touched me on the shoulder and I jumped so high and was so scared. I still remember my heart racing. That is one legit scary book. It’s still scary. It has withstood the test of time. Anyway, that is the kind of scared I want to be when I read ghost stories. If I’m not getting a cold creeping dread like I did when Helen was luring that girl down to the pond to drown, then it’s just not the real deal.

So did this book do that? Not really. There were definitely some scary bits in it, and maybe it was just because of the excessively sunny atmosphere I’m surrounded in right now what with it being summer and all, but it wasn’t super scary. The story itself should have been scary—it had some great history and some great back story, but save for a few places here and there, overall it wasn’t that scary. (Or maybe I’m just an adult now and so those moments in fourth grade aren’t as easy to come by? Say it isn’t so!)

I really enjoyed the premise of this book and I think the story was interesting and easy to connect to on lots of levels. The people were realistic-feeling, and the writing, while not overly fanatically notable, was decent and didn’t detract from the telling of the story, which is always really important. There was a good story arc and a good resolution, too, even if it isn’t always the resolution you were looking for, nor was it super shocking.

I purposely put this book in the end of September reviews because although I read it in the summer, I think it would be a great seasonal read for Halloween. There are some really creepy ghost happenings and some really creepy atmospheric elements that I think would lend itself really well to October and fall and all things Halloween. If you’re looking for a great book to help enhance your mood, this is a good one. It isn’t too serious or too complicated, and it’s not hard to read or get into. It’s a solid ghost story with some good back story and legit creepiness.

My Rating: 3 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is some language.

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