Ammie, Come Home
by Barbara Michaels
Book 1 of Georgetown
It begins as a lark -- a harmless diversion initiated by Washington, D.C., hostess Ruth Bennett as a means of entertaining her visiting niece, Sara. But the séance conducted in Ruth's elegant Georgetown home calls something back; something unwelcome ... and palpably evil. Suddenly Sara is speaking in a voice not her own, transformed into a miserable, whimpering creature so unlike her normal, sensible self. No tricks or talismans will dispel the malevolence that now plagues the inhabitants of this haunted place -- until a dark history of treachery, lust, and violence is exposed. But the cost might well be the sanity and the lives of the living.
To be honest, I don't know if it was just my general avoidance of reading this book in the dead of night or what, but the creepiness I'd been expecting wasn't exactly there. At least, I didn't really feel scared or anything (and I'm an admitted scaredy-cat). There were scenes that were quite disturbing, and I can kind of see parts of the book where one would have been frightened if read in the setting of a dark room, lit only by flickering candlelight. But otherwise, maybe I just didn't really get into it as well as others might have.
Ammie, Come Home is very well written, with a smooth progression, and a refined narration. The premise of the story was excellent and, again, I can see this being a good choice for a Halloween read, and maybe a manufactured eerie reading nook would give great effect to the experience.
Again, I kept lights on. Everywhere. Maybe I should have gone for ambiance instead of letting my scaredy-cat self wimp out. Because certain books are meant to be read in certain ways. I think.
As far as the rest of the book goes, it was quite enjoyable up to the end. The ending of the book was actually what I enjoyed the most when our four main characters discover the mystery behind Sara's possession and the haunting of Ruth's home. But other than that, I couldn't help taking notice that a lot of actions by characters didn't make a whole lot of sense, and a lot of that, "Don't you see?" exclamations made by characters were NOT, indeed, obvious to me upon each secret reveal. And there were some continuity problems I had noticed as well, but we'll bench those, because loose ends are typically on par with a lot of books I've read lately and I'm not about to be irritated by them.
Anyway, there were happenings and hauntings and stuff. And our main characters start researching the reasons behind Sara's possession as well as the strange manifestation early on in the story. But they sure did spend a LOT of time lounging around and chatting, eating, and drinking. They're discussions about the entire situation felt really relaxed, even though Bruce's behavior gave indication otherwise.
"It's partly the weather and partly this damned picnic atmosphere," Bruce said. He stabbed a shrimp and looked at it fondly. "We seem to spend half our time eating and/or drinking, under the most peculiar conditions."
What should have been a day or two of investigating the haunted house, the possession, the malevolent entity, and the house's historical significance, felt like it was taking weeks. Because every time we turn around, our characters are making breakfast, or having a relaxing nightcap, or--as the quote above indicates--having a freakin' picnic!
Character-wise, I had trouble relating with any of the four main characters. And I don't know if it was because I had trouble getting into the right frame of mind for the time period--to be honest, I guess I never realized how different a mere few decades of time could be from each other. Admittedly, I was born in the 80s and lived through the 90s, and can relate to the differences between then and now. I guess it just might be that I didn't quite grasp the differences between what I'm familiar with and the culture of the 60s in America. I admit that I rarely read books that aren't contemporary to my own lifetime, aside from my most recent explorations into historical fiction, or anything that's fantasy-based.
Sure, men treated women terribly in the past. They still do now. But it bugged me a lot that our two heroines just kind of shrugged it off and moved on as if it were an everyday occurrence... and I suppose it probably was. Correct me if I'm wrong. But the things that Bruce and Pat would say to Ruth and Sara offhand just really turned me off.
The characters felt unexciting anyway. There was little development. And I really didn't care for the male characters, though Bruce seems easier for me to like than Pat did. In fact, Pat seemed unnecessary, and kind of an arrogant ass. And everyone was always shouting at each other.
I did NOT like the implied romance... or lack thereof. The whole thing between Pat and Ruth just seemed awkwardly forced into the plot for the sake of having a romantic couple. Then that bombshell that Ruth drops about her traumatic past with her now-deceased husband... WTF? Because then we just move one like nothing happened. Even the boyfriend-girlfriend relationship between Sara and Bruce felt a bit unnatural as well. Not that I'm complaining or anything, because, I suppose, sometimes there's no need for any focus to be on romance at all.
What I DID like was the setting and descriptions of our characters, their fashion, their home, etc.... I liked the potential the book had to really be a haunting tale of ghostly revenge and secrets and cries for help from beyond the grave. I liked the historical aspect of our main characters' research--or rather, I guess Bruce's research. I liked the brief delving into the theological aspect of malevolent entities, with short mentions of the perceived differences between different cultures and subsequent spirits and exorcisms within said other cultures. These are all ideas that can be expanded upon and caught my interest.
Unfortunately, a lot of things were left hanging; lots of loose ends that were unsatisfying.
I will definitely try to pick up another Barbara Michaels book and test my luck with her again.
2016 Reading Challenges:
• Goodreads Reading Challenge
• BookLikes Reading Challenge
• Bookish Resolutions Challenge
• 2016 Halloween Bingo