What’s Ashley Reading?: The Haunting of Maddy Clare

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

First line: The day I met Mr. Gellis, I had been walking in the rain.

Summary: Sarah Piper is a poor young woman working for a temp agency in London when an unusual job becomes available. She is hired on as an assistant for a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis, a WWI veteran and ghost enthusiast, is determined to prove the existence of ghosts. He wants Sarah’s help with the ghost of Maddy Clare. Maddy was a servant for the Clare family until she took her own life in their barn. Now her spirit is wreaking havoc on the occupants. With the help of Matthew Ryder, a former soldier and friend of Alistair’s they search for a way to help Maddy move on and solve the mystery behind her destructive behavior.

My Thoughts: Absolutely chilling! Simone St. James is by far one of the best writers, in my opinion, of the Gothic ghost story. She can weave the historical fiction, romance and spookiness together seamlessly. I have been meaning to read this for some time now. It took me just a few days to read because it was that good!

I loved the mystery behind Maddy. No one knew who she was or where she came from. She had no memory and rarely spoke. Then one day she hangs herself in the barn of her employer. That’s when the trouble really begins. Maddy’s vengeful spirit is set to attack any man who sets foot on the Clare property. What happened in her past? Sarah’s first interactions with Maddy were a little terrifying. It literally gets your blood pumping as you read it. When you pick this up be prepared to finish it. Maybe even the same day. Just saying.

FYI: If you like this then try Wendy Webb and Amanda Stevens.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Haunting of Hill House

I have decided to do something different with my weekly blog post.  Rather than just a book review, I am going to tell you about what I am reading, watching and loving or not loving this week.  There is so much here at the library to enjoy and I want to share it with you!

I have been struggling to find something to read that completely captures me.  I go through one or two of these slumps every year when I am anticipating the next in a series or on a book hangover from a great novel.  I have tried several books lately and just had to put them back on the shelf.  Does this happen to you?  Any recommendations?  Please!

I just recently finished reading The Haunting of Hill House.  I have loved the fall weather so I figured creepy books were in order.  In addition, this will soon be a series on Netflix!

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

First line: No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.

Summary: Hill House, a place that the locals will not go near, is going to be the home of four strangers for the summer. They believe they are going to encounter a few bumps in the night but the house has something even more sinister in mind.

Highlights: I was pleasantly surprised by this tiny novel. I remember seeing the movie (starring Catherine Zeta-Jones) years ago but I could not remember the details. For a tale of haunting it is a very slow burn. The chills come from the atmosphere of the story. An old house in the middle of nowhere with a dark and deadly past. It has many rooms and doors that will not stay open. As the doctor described the house and its construction, it reminded me of the Winchester Mystery House in California.

All of our characters have their own reasons for being there but Eleanor is the one we mainly focus on. Eleanor slowly becomes susceptible to the darkness of Hill House. As the reader, we see her changing moods and thoughts as the narrative progresses. Being inside her head made me nervous for our other characters.

I was a little surprised by the ending.  It was very abrupt but also satisfying.  I was not disappointed.  I had to stop and think for a minute about how I felt.  I would say that this is a marker of a good book.  It makes the reader think and was enjoyable at the same time.

Lowlights: The “witty banter” between the occupants of Hill House started to drive me a little nuts. I think the author was trying to lighten the mood at times with nonsense conversations but I found it annoying. I would much rather have had more insights into the characters and the history of the house.

FYI: Do not try to read this at night! Too creepy.

P.S.: Last night I watched the 1963 movie, The Haunting.  There is something about a horror movie filmed in black and white.  I kept all the lights on in the living room while watching it and I think that this was a good idea.  It was creepy and fun at the same time.  I loved the sound effects and the old house.  There were several changes from the book but for the most part it followed the story very well.  Definitely check it out!