By Lindsay Marcott
Publication Date: October 18, 2022
Ava has a troubled past she’s been unable to outrun. Her mother died too early under mysterious circumstances and Ava spent far too long in a deep depression as a result. When her marriage crumbles, she makes the decision to move back to her childhood home, a haunted mansion on the California coast. Her brother, James, is against her returning, but he has his own problems after a hasty marriage to a woman he barely knows.
Ava knows that only by returning to the Manor can she remember what happened on the day her mother died and possibly who killed her. But someone else knows she’s returning and Ava fears she’s being haunted by someone all too real. Is it her estranged father? Her former crush who wants to buy the land? Or simply the ghosts from her past?
For some reason, I expected a ghost story. In that respect, I was disappointed since the haunting only served to give the house atmosphere. The story itself is tense and had me wanting to know what happened for about the first half of the book. After that, I feel like the execution of the story faltered and my interest waned as the book went on, the exact opposite of what I want when I’m reading a suspense/thriller.
Let me explain what bothered me about this read. The story is told in several points of view, including Ava, Sarah (Jame’s wife), and a troubled girl who worked for Ava’s mother over a decade prior (Didi). Often when the point of view switched to a different character, the story picked up where it left off. That’s not unusual but unfortunately, several chapters simply reiterated what had just happened and it was never a scenario where a different take on it would add something new. So that drained the tension. The characters had an annoying habit of acting somewhat irrationally (interogating a romantic partner for murder just before you sleep with him doesn’t normally happen, I don’t think.) Also, they often jumped to conclusions based on information that wasn’t presented anywhere prior, so I had no idea where their thought process was coming from. Add to that I guessed the plot reveal about two-thirds of the way through the book so except for a few details that took me by surprise, the ending wasn’t unexpected.
I did love the atmosphere of the Manor and the history wrapped up in it. But I feel like this novel could have used one more pass-through to tighten dialogue and make sure everything flowed.
2.75 stars ⭐⭐+
Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing the ARC. I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.
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