Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Invited

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group: 4/30/19
eBook review copy; 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9780385541381

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon is a highly recommended ghost story.
Helen and Nate Wetherell decide to leave city life behind and buy forty-four acres in rural Vermont where they plan to build their dream house by themselves. When they discover that the property has a dark past and a reputation for being haunted, former history teacher Helen begins to research the life of Hattie Breckenridge, the woman who lived and died there a century ago. Hattie is said to haunt the land and surrounding bogs. Helen not only researches Hattie's life, but that of her descendants too, three generations of "Breckenridge women." There seems to be more to their deaths than the locals are admitting... And who is trying to scare them off? While their neighbor, fourteen-year-old Olive Kissner, admits to some stunts, she is not responsible for all of them.
While this is a ghost story, it is also very much a mystery. And, while this is a ghost story, it is not a horror story, although horrific things do happen by the hands of the living. It is also the story of seeking a treasure, that may or may not be real, and this is also reflected on several levels in the narrative. There is definitely tension that slowly builds and the mystery and questions expand gradually, slowly building to a surprising, shocking conclusion.

McMahon is an exceptional writer and I always look forward to her novels. The characters are all well-developed and you will feel empathy for all of them. Following Helen's investigations and discoveries is just as compelling as following Olive's inquiries. The pacing is perfect. The disclosure of more information is closely tied to the incremental odd occurrences and new developments. The tension builds, not with nail-biting horror, but with a subtle feeling someone might be in the room with you, and what was that noise, and is that what I think it is? The real story behind the ghost story, is a tragedy and perhaps the truly frightening part of the tale. While I loved other novels by McMahon more, this is still a very good novel and a perfect choice for a rainy day and foggy night.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

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