by Simone St. James
Descriptive and lush, this story takes place 20 years after WWI in England. Sarah is a loney woman working as a temp and is hiring by rich Alistair Gellis, who writes about hauntings. He takes her to see Maddy Clare, a powerful ghost who doesn’t like men. Sarah is hired as the go-between.
The language is compelling, and of a bygone era, as are our characters. You realize WWI completely affected everyone. All young men are damaged in some way, scars both physical and mental are expected. The ghost? Holy crud. What a scary ghost and because of her we really see the strength in the main character, Miss Piper.
“But if I was in danger, then so were the others. Lying there on the bed, I decided I would not leave. We had all been through a war, after all. I knew of so many men who had never come home. After that, what was dangerous to any of us anymore?” (pg 96)
After living through war, how could a ghost be worse? I wasn’t sure if this was the best line of thinking after what had just happened, but it makes sense and explains why Sarah, who also needs the money, doesn’t high-tail it out of there to leave the men to their ghostly business.
So there is a mystery. Who is Maddy and what was done to her to make her hate men? Sarah and Matthew, Alistair’s assistant work together to find out. There is a little romance but it takes a back seat to the ghost and her issues and these are two messed up people who end up getting together. It is tentative and awkward. They feel but can’t show anything. What a weird day and age compared to today! But this book transported me back, folks were quieter. Small town people won’t talk to outsiders and the power of gossip is amazingly portrayed.
Everything comes to a head, the romance, the ghost and the townsfolk. What happens isn’t that surprising, but the telling, the pacing and the getting there is worth the journey. I really enjoyed my time with Sarah and Matthew and Alistair and Maddy. This would make a terrifying movie, because you add in these visuals and I might pee my pants. The book itself was creepy, though not terrifying. My stomache wasn’t hurting while reading, but I was completely engaged and life couldn’t come between me and my reading time.
I give this book four black crows that look like stars from a distance, but you can hear them scraping on the roof of your house, looking for a way in. I will be picking up St. James’ next book!