By Jennifer McMahon
Hardcover, 336 pages
Wow. I just put this down after doing nothing else all day but read. I may still be in my robe - don't judge.
Jennifer McMahon is celebrated as a master of literary suspense and one of the bright new voices in the genre. I think I may have found my new favourite author of spooky suspense!
Not only does she weave a great story, but she does so with intelligence and finesse.
In this novel, which takes place in the present and the past - alternating and weaving them together as time goes on - with spooky woods, spooky little girls, real life puzzles and things that go scritch scratch in the night.
One caveat - you might not want to read this all alone in the basement, as I did. Best to leave a couple of lights on too.
See the creepy trailer here:
From the back flap:
West Hall has always been a town of strange disappearances and legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who was found murdered in the field behind her house in 1908, a few short months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie, drove her mad. People say that Sara's ghost still walks after dark, and some leave offerings on their doorstep to keep her from entering their homes uninvited.
Now, in present day, Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they remain on the fringes, living off the land without internet or outside interference. But one morning Ruthie wakes up to find that Alice has disappeared without a trace. When she searches the house for clues, she is startled to find a secret compartment beneath the floorboards that contains two objects. One, a gun. And two, a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary.
The story the diary tells is one of a mother skating on the edge of sanity, willing to do whatever she can to bring her daughter back even if it means dabbling in dark and dangerous territory. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's death, she discovers that she's not the only one looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.
Her own bio - so much more interesting!
I was born in 1968 and grew up in my grandmother’s house in suburban Connecticut, where I was convinced a ghost named Virgil lived in the attic. I wrote my first short story in third grade. I graduated with a BA from Goddard College in 1991 and then studied poetry for a year in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. A poem turned into a story, which turned into a novel, and I decided to take some time to think about whether I wanted to write poetry or fiction. After bouncing around the country, I wound up back in Vermont, living in a cabin with no electricity, running water, or phone with my partner, Drea, while we built our own house. Over the years, I have been a house painter, farm worker, paste-up artist, Easter Bunny, pizza delivery person, homeless shelter staff member, and counselor for adults and kids with mental illness — I quit my last real job in 2000 to work on writing full time. In 2004, I gave birth to our daughter, Zella. These days, we’re living in an old Victorian in Montpelier, Vermont. Some neighbors think it looks like the Addams family house, which brings me immense pleasure.