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review 2018-10-03 21:55
Make the hair on the back of your neck stand-up
The Haunting of Maddy Clare - Simone St. James

 

 

“The ghost in Waringstoke is female,” he explained. “She was, apparently, a servant girl who worked for the family. She hanged herself in the barn at the age of nineteen.”

 

I've been wanting a more creepy Halloween Bingo story and this delivered. Told in first person, Sarah gets a call from her temp agency telling her about a job opportunity. She's to be an assistant to Alistair Gellis, who turns out to be young, rich, handsome, and oh, a ghost hunter. Sarah doesn't necessarily believe in ghosts but she needs the money and has been feeling adrift.

 

“Please tell me. Why was your husband afraid of Maddy?”

Tears began to course down her cheeks. She seemed hardly aware of them. “He always said—he always said that night she came, she looked like she’d been buried. She looked like she’d come from a grave. My husband believed Maddy was dead before she even came to Falmouth House.'

 

The story starts rolling right away and keeps a very quick pace, you'll want to devour this story in one sitting. The story is somewhat tight knit starting off with our heroine Sarah, Alistair bringing her into the mystery, Alistair's assistant Matthew, our ghost Maddy Clare, and a handful of townspeople. I immediately started side-eyeing people as their personalities and actions seemed dark and murky. The first person dialogue was a double edged sword for me as it kept the mystery alive but also felt like forced manufacturing mystery and drama. 

 

Matthew’s words hung between us, the war a chasm that could not be traveled. I could not go there; he could not come back.

 

The ghost story is pretty front and center but a close second is the discussion of World War I and all the emotional and mental damage that did to Alistair, Matthew, and others. A more distant third was the romance between Sarah and Matthew, I even want to hesitate to call it romance because it kind of pops in jarringly and then hovers at the edges. At times it felt like there were some hitches in the juggling act between the three, I think a longer page count allowing the romance to be given more time and depth and a longer time spent with the characters dealing with PTSD would have given this a more even flow. 

 

Heels, barefoot, kicking against the wall. Something sat in the sill of the high window, and kicked its heels as it dangled its feet. It was behind me, only six feet away.

 

I thought the mystery was done well but as an avid horror movie watcher, I've see this type of story done before (a similar movie 

[spoiler]

Gothika

[/spoiler]) and was able to guess what some of the answers were halfway through. You'll be devastated and probably start wanting to bend your moral feelings on accepted justice. The creepy factor was still done really well here and thinking I knew what was going on didn't stop me from looking extra hard into corner shadows as I went to bed. I definitely recommend this if looking for a spooky story that deals with some discussion about PTSD or battle fatigue as it was referenced as after World War I, first person pov that will keep some character mystery alive, a romance that could be described more as intensity, and a ghost that will have her revenge. 

 

I screamed, but I tasted their blood, she said, as if I had not spoken. Each of the three. They each tasted different. I took orders, but I knew I would taste it again. Every one of them. I will do it, little girl. I will have my revenge.

 

 

 

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text 2018-10-02 14:24
50%
The Haunting of Maddy Clare - Simone St. James

 

Maddy Clare let me escape the barn, where I could finally scream and scream.

 

This is fairly creepy and has been off and running from the get go. I'm also side-eyeing a whole bunch of people.

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text 2018-10-01 23:51
Reading Update: 10%
The Haunting of Maddy Clare - Simone St. James

 

I nodded. Taking notes, organizing clippings—it was easy enough. “Certainly I’ll help you,” I said.

He held up a finger. “Ah—I haven’t finished. Don’t agree just yet. You said you have no opinion on the existence of ghosts.”

“I’ve certainly never seen one,” I conceded.

His smile was like sun breaking through the clouds.“How lucky for you, then. Because you’re going to see one this week. For me.”

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review 2018-08-03 20:08
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
The Broken Girls - Simone St. James

The Broken Girls is a book that straddles two timelines. Usually books like this leave me confused at least a time or two but not this one. They’ll often leave me frustrated too because I typically find one timeline far more interesting than the other but that didn’t happen this time around either. I think what it all breaks down to is the characters. Too many murder mystery thrillers focus on the murders and the police procedural aspects and all the dynamics that go along with that and though this book has some of that stuff it wasn’t the main focus so I never drifted away. The main focus is on the characters and their emotional ties either to each other or to getting to the truth at whatever cost for deeply personal reasons. I read for character, for the most part, so that’s why I dug this story. If you’re that type of reader I think you might like it a lot too.

 

There is a lot of stuff going on here and none of it is boring. There wasn’t a single moment when I felt the need to drift away or long to pick up something else. There’s a murder or two or maybe more. . . I’m not saying. Some murder takes place in the past, one in the not too distant past and the ramifications are a big source of motivation for the modern day character. My favorite part of this story was the friendship that was so skillfully and carefully developed between a group of misfits and misbehaving girls in the 1950’s who are carted off to Idlewild Hall and are mostly forgotten by their families. Their friendship and the terrible thing that happens (and no I am NOT telling you what it is) had me glued to the book. These girls and their day to day troubles came to life. But besides being a house for wayward girls, Idlewild Hall may also be inhabited by a ghost or two!

 

I loved all of it and I am so afraid of spoiling anything that I’m not going to say anything else. Instead I will leave you with this bookwormy quote that made me forever a fan of Sonia.

 

“Sonia envied her, the way she could turn her brain off, think about absolutely nothing. It was a trick Sonia herself had never learned. That was what books did - they turned off your thinking for you, put their thoughts in your head so you wouldn't have your own.”

 

 Yep

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review 2018-07-22 21:05
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
The Broken Girls - Simone St. James

Simone St James has a lot of wheels turning in 'The Broken Girls', her sixth novel. Idlewild Hall in the present day is a third rate boarding school that closed decades ago. Fiona, whose sister was found dead on its grounds, is driven to investigate why it may be reopened and face her own doubts as to the guilt of the man who was convicted of her sister's murder. The novel weaves in and out of the past to explore the bond between four girls in the post WWII era and the tragedy that strikes one of them. Through all of this there is the legend of Mary Hand, whose spirit is said to haunt the school and infects the lives of those who hear her.
This was a chilling, suspenseful novel that makes the most of its setting and characters. St James balances her cast of characters in two timelines and makes the most of her setting. I liked how the supernatural touches didn't take over the plot of the novel.

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