The Invited by Jennifer McMahon
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group: 4/30/19
eBook review copy; 368 pages
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.
My review copy was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.