Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
Summertime seems a strange time to pick a ghost story to read, but that's exactly what my book club did.  Perhaps it was better to read this eerie story out in the broad sunlight; I think a drizzly grey day would have created even more creepiness than ever.

St. James has created three fascinating characters to lead the reader through this ghostly story.  First is Alistair, a middle-class, handsome young man who is driven to research, document, and write about the presence of ghosts throughout England.  His faithful sidekick is Matthew, a comrade-in-arms from WWI, still tortured by his time in the war, as well as his horrific burns he suffered.  Last is Sarah, the young orphaned woman, living in London, but plucked out of a dull life to become Alistair's assistant.  Of course, she thought it was secretarial work - a bit surprised to find out he wanted her to talk to a ghost.

Because, yes, our less-than-friendly ghost Maddy Clare is creating havoc in a small English village.  Throw in a mystery of why she haunts this place, the strange characters in the village itself, a lost love of Alistair's, and a passionate attraction between Matthew and Sarah, and you've got a lovely Gothic novel.  While at times predictable, it is also capable of raising a few goosebumps on the back of your neck.  Ultimately, it was a darn good read!

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