Review: The Haunting of Maddy Clare

  The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

I say:

“Superb, scary and satisfying. A moody ghost story with chills and a touch of romance.”

In the 1920s London, Sarah Piper is alone in the world. She lives in a boarding house and works for a temporary agency to make ends meet.  The agency offers her an unconventional job. Sarah accepts the position as an assistant to wealthy ghost-hunter and World War I veteran Alistair Gellis. Gellis is not just a ghost hunter, he is an obsessed ghost hunter.

He hires Sarah because his regular assistant is on leave and special circumstances surround this potential haunting. Sarah accompanies Gellis on a trip to a rural small town. Summoned by Mrs. Clare the property owner Gellis will be allowed to document the haunting but he is not allowed to enter the building. The ghost will not tolerate men.

They visit Mrs. Clare and learn that the ghost arrived at their door one night as a brutalized young child. She damaged physically and traumatized emotionally. The family took her in and named her Maddy. Incapable of little the family cared for the girl until she committed suicide in the barn leaving a note, “I will kill them.” Mrs. Clare wants Alistair Gellis to rid the barn of Maddy and her rage.

With no training or skill Gellis sends Sarah into the barn with a recorder and a camera. Sarah is to document the ghost and ask her to leave. Nervous but determined Sarah calls to the ghost. She senses the spirit then a door start to move. The ghost taunts her in a terrifying encounter.

They return to the pub where he has secured them rooms. Gellis is euphoric with the manifestation. His assistant, Matthew Ryder, arrives eager as well. Sarah is attracted to Matthew and accidentally sees the burns scars covering his body. Sarah learns that the two men met and developed an enduring bond during the war, WWI.

Further encounters with Maddy escalate the violence and threat. Three damaged people suffering from trauma must uncover the mystery. The poverty-stricken and lonely Sarah, sophisticated Gellis and rough edged Matthew must learn what happened to Maddy, what she wants and how to put her to rest because Maddy is very angry and will stop at nothing to get her revenge.

The story is told in first person by Sarah. Her narration is filled with nuance and details setting the mood and building the characters. The feeling of loneliness and isolation radiate from the Sarah and the men, each trying to overcome a trauma just as Maddy herself suffered.

The mystery is easily determined by the reader. Yet the tension ratchets higher with each page. The author, Simone St. James does a superb job of engaging the reader. I was engrossed with this un-put-downable book. My reading of the book lead to my blog of Review Interruptess.

St. James is the winner of two RITA Awards from the Romance Writers of America ,best new book and best book with strong romantic elements also, the Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada. She deserves these awards for penning a chilling, scary read that draws you into the lives and fear of her characters.

Product Details:

  • Print Length: 335 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0451235681
  • Publisher: NAL; 1 Original edition (March 6, 2012)

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