By: Jennifer McMahon
Before I even tell you how awesome this book is, I want you to know that you all NEED to read anything that Jennifer has written, because the atmosphere that she is able to create will haunt you long past the last page! I am reading this book from a Central Vermont local resident and I think that made this book all the more eerie and scary, as I was able to recognize towns and the influence that small towns of the area can have on people. I also had an awesome time reading this book with my buddy from the West Coast Missy from BingeReader on Youtube!
Plot: "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." (Goodreads.com)
Tagline: Loosing hope can sometimes be worse than your biggest fear!
- Damn this woman can write!
- She lives very close to me in real life!
- Can all horror books be written in this lyrical and vividly imaginative version of Vermont!?
- These were my first three thoughts after completing this book!
- Why have I not heard about this author sooner?
- She is a well published author through Doubleday publishing, so I am confused how I missed hearing about the genius that has written this book and many more!
- I do not believe that West Hall is a real place in Vermont, however if it is I really want to go exploring there. Of course not after dark but during the day it sounds like the picturesque charming Vermont country town.
- The writing style exhibited in this book borders on the literary, however it shows a few informalities which allow the reader to connect to the story. I enjoy her writing style, as it is a "high-brow horror" novel. I would classify it as "high-brow horror" for the simple fact that the writing is using an elevated style with many unique tones and structures woven in.
- I would like to clarify that this book, though it is "high-brow horror" is not hard to read at all! This is one of the most enjoyable and intellectually pleasing books I have come across in the horror genre.
- Jennifer's writing is a set of staggering plot-lines and differing time periods that meld together in a whimsically unsettling fashion, truly a treat!
Plot: This is something that I will not discuss in detail because of the shock factors that are used in this novel, however I do have some I can say upfront. I was scared with this book more so than some may be because I live in the direct vicinity of where this novel is set. The plot utilizes two time periods very effectively with an alternating chapter style that adds a great amount of depth and understanding to the novel as a whole. I loved every ounce of this book, both while reading it and thinking back about it!
- Ruthie: This is the sister that I never had! Ruthie is one of the rebellious and angsty teens that continuously get brought into plots of novels and are just two dimentional, however Ruthie is not! She is a fully thought out and realistic teen, playing the role of "mother" through the majority of this book. Ruthie's rationality and decision making remind me of my own when I am forced to deal with stressful situations. All in all, Ruthie gave me a new perspective on the familial bond that is created when nurtured from a young age!
- Sars Harrison Shea: Sara is the women from the past that is brought into the story through her journal that was recently published. This woman had me reeling with every passage she wrote about, the shocking and eerie Aunty she had while growing up gave me the most chills while reading! Sara is her own unique and mystical being without the added hint of witchcraft, thought this dash of magic was "icing on the cake" for me. Sara is a women who I now see on the streets strolling among the hippies and farmers of Vermont. I cannot describe the connection that I had with Sara's character, however by the end of the book I felt as though I had met her before! All around stunning character development.
- The rest of the supporting characters were just as realistic and vividly portrayed in this novel. I will just hi-lite these two so my entire review does not become a character study sheet!
This book is a must read for anyone who:
- Lives in New England!
- Enjoys horror, small towns, family bonds or just lyrical and literary writing.
- Wants to try an eerie horror novel, but is not ready for the slasher and jump scares that Hollywood pumps out.
- Anyone who can read!
Rating: 5/5 Screams (horror ratings)
I will be reading more of Jennifer McMahon's work in the coming months, with Missy so keep an eye out for that! I also will have a video review which will contain spoilers for the book that you should only watch after reading the book! I cannot get rid of the eerie thoughts and chills that this "high-brow horror" has given me!
I will chat with you all very soon about some other phenomenal books I am reading!