For a McMahon book this was surprisingly uplifting but also contained what I consider to be her signature build up of dread. The story is told through multiple points of view and at first I wasn’t sure I liked it but as I started to see the pattern it made more sense. The points of view and experiences of each of these women matters deeply to the theme of the story – the way women viewed as different or on the outside are treated, particularly by the men whose control they chafe under or against.
I should warn you that this book may make you feel like you too could build a house – haunted or otherwise – and I hope you are quickly dissuaded of this notion. We also have more houses than people to live in them so you’d also be wasteful (end rant)
The relationships in this book were an interesting dynamic and I think they made me more stressed than the ghosts. Helen and Nate and how they were each haunted and if their marriage will survive (Nate is a skeptic to his detriment and Helen is a know it all), Olive and her father, Olive and Riley (a family full of pain and secrets), and the growth of one between Helen and Olive. Our main ghost is Hattie Breckenridge, a woman hanged as a witch, and everything is set in motion by her power and the curse of her murder. There’s just so much to tackle here and talk about thematically but I don’t want to spoil it!
This is a solid read and fans of McMahon will feel at home here, but this is definitely a novel that would appeal to readers who don’t usually read books about hauntings. The emotional core of the story is about the bonds between people and healing from loss and betrayal. It covers the way women have been treated over time and the vicious response to those who did not follow societal expectations. It’s about finding a way to communicate with the people you love. Olive experiences a strange coming of age as well but it’s easy to see yourself in her frustrations, anger, and fear. She frustrates the heck out of me but I also realize teenage girls can be totally irrational. It’s about the lines that connect mothers to daughters and the legacies passed on whether we know it or not.
This was a 4.5 star read for me, as some of the overall structure took me out of the flow of the story even if I eventually could appreciate what it was meant to do and the stories the reader needed to see.