Egads! Only a few days left ’til All Hallows Eve and CeeCee still has oodles of scary stories to review–not to mention a boatload of costumes to wear–before the big day! While reading this book, I was compelled to pick up this fabulous vampiress bust (now known as Drucilla) because she looks just like the woman on the cover. It’s like she called to me….ooooh spooky! Either way, here’s the scoop on my latest literary conquest.
Synapsis: Grieving war widow Jo Manders takes on a job as a paid companion at a spooky ol’ manor surrounded by haunted woods, a rabid dog and a ghostly girl who leaves a snail trail of leaves in the drafty hallways. Soon Jo finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery and everyone’s a suspect—even her dead husband! But of course, his body was never found…dum dum duuuuuum!
What worked: When I’m in the mood for a deliciously atmospheric gothic thriller/romance, Simone St. James always delivers. However, I must warn you that this is what I call “horror light,” so you’re not going to have to worry about sleeping with the lights on. I just really enjoyed the mystique of the haunted manor house that frightens the provincial townsfolk. And then there’s the threat of a man-eating ghost dog roaming the haunted woods. Such fun!
What didn’t work: One of my biggest literary pet peeves is the dreaded info dump. Sadly the story took a turn for the worst when I got hit with a barrage of information after the big plot twist. I had to hit the rewind button on my audiobook numerous times to catch it all. And to be honest, I was not all that surprised by the bombshell, which sadly watered down all the spooky ghostly goodness. I won’t reveal any spoilers but I will say that spy games aren’t my thing. Also, I should add that the main character seems to be cut from the same mold as all the other mopey women in St. James’ books. Might be time for her to mix things up in the next one.
Overall: Of all of St. James’ works, this one isn’t her best. We were off to a good start with the creepy Wych Elm House and the creepy nocturnal encounters with the desperate ghost girl. But after the focus shifted to wartime conspiracies, I lost interest. All things considered, this author is still in the same league as Wendy Webb and Barbara Michaels, two of the best gothic romance writers in the biz!