It was a pretty darn good ghost story.
I love Cherie Priest's writing. Her Eden More series is about restless souls; usually from the Civil War Era. She followed that up with her steampunk Clockwork Century novels; Boneshaker really put her on the radar of a lot of science fiction/fantasy fans. I did read Boneshaker years ago, and did enjoy it quite a bit, but her gift, to me, lies in her ability to make you uneasy in the comfort of your own home. And that is what The Family Plot did to me.
Music City Salvage is on the cusp of financial ruin, and one big job will save the company. Enter Augusta Withrow, the last member of the Withrow family. For $40,000, Music City Salvage gets all the rights to her family's estate before it's torn down. They have a week to claim everything they can from the house, the barn, and carriage house.
Dahlia, Bobby, Gabe, and Brad travel to Chattanooga to the Withrow estate, up a badly maintained road on the side of a mountain. What should be a routine salvage job is not so routine as eerie things start right from the get-go. Is the house angry at its demise, or is there something else in the house that is really, really angry? And why is Dahlia the center of all the attention?
One thing that annoys me about paranormal fiction is a super slow buildup in tension. Don't get that here--it starts right away, and thankfully, Dahlia, Bobby, Gabe and Brad start comparing notes on what they've experienced pretty quickly. Showering in any bathroom at the house is a very bad idea. Going up to the attic by yourself? Bad idea. Trying to reason with the paranormal? Bad idea. It's a race to finish the job and get the hell out of dodge for this crew. Things start escalating as they near the end of their time at the house and start putting the pieces together to discover what, exactly, happened in the Withrow home all those years ago that has made the place a nightmare for anyone who tries to make it a home.
The end...well... it's one of those endings where you get to decide how it should end.
Loved the mystery of the house; it truly was enough to make me uneasy, and I don't scare easily (Unless you're a bat. Then I freak out. Ghosts? No.). Sometimes the evil that is done to people sets off emotions that don't die when our physical bodies stop. Yikes.
Rating: 8/10 for a truly chilling story. My appreciation for Cherie Priest's writing grows with every book she writes.
Available in hardcover and e-book.