Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

A friend loaned me her copy of this novel (months ago, I shamefully admit) and I decided now was the time to read it. Jennifer McMahon has had me curious for quite some time. I know her novel The Winter People received great reviews, but of course I didn't get a chance to read it. 

I've been tussling over what to read for my book group this next week. I'm supposed to read something that scares me, and I've got to tell you, not much scares me in the reading world. It's a rare book that unnerves me. I was hoping The Invited would at least make me slightly uneasy at night, but it didn't. However, it was an excellent tale and I couldn't put it down. 

Helen and Nate are two school teachers that decide to leave their jobs and move to Vermont to pursue their wish to start over. Using Helen's inheritance money, they purchase some land outside the small Vermont town of Hartsboro. Forty acres of mostly woods and bog, and one perfect spot to build their dream house. The realtor laughingly says the land is haunted, and Helen's ears perk up. She's a historian, and she longs to create a place that has some history attached to it. A haunted piece of land will certainly help. 

Helen and Nate begin building their home-yes, by themselves. Helens' father built houses, and Helen often helped him. Saving their money, doing most of the labor themselves, Helen and Nate should stretch their money to build the house and live off the land. Living in a crappy trailer on the land while they build their home, things start to get tense pretty quickly. It's a lousy trailer, and neither sleeps well at night. Tools begin to go missing, and money, too. The bog is very tempting, but dangerous. Nate begins getting into watching the wildlife (he's a science teacher), and Helen becomes intrigued in the story of Hattie Breckenridge, who lived on the land they now own, and was hung by the townspeople for witchcraft in 1924. Yes, I said 1924. Hung by a mob, next to the bog. They then burned her home down. Hattie was known by all to have a gift--she could see the future, and while everyone was afraid of her, they also came to her for help, too. But a tragic fire at the schoolhouse kills three children, and Hattie had warned the town that something tragic would happen. They blamed it on her, and killed her for it. Now everyone believes Hattie haunts the bog. And they believe Helen and Nate have invited her back with their purchase of the land and building their home. 

Olive lives not far from Helen and Nate's land, and she's also really mad they are there. Olive, a young girl, and her mother Lori heard the tales of buried treasure on Hattie's land, and were convinced they were meant to find it. However, Lori disappears (everyone says she ran away) and Olive is not only traumatized by her mother disappearing, but the gossip in town, and her father's constant renovating their home. He thinks if he keeps fixing it up, Lori will come home. Olive keeps searching for the treasure, and making mischief for Helen and Nate. 

However, Olive isn't all to blame. There is some weird stuff happening, and the more Helen uncovers the dark past of Hattie's murder, the more she's convinced Hattie is there, leading Helen to solve a mystery. 

This was a really good blend of mystery, history, and paranormal. The story of the Breckenridge women was the best part of the novel-and the most tragic, too. Olive is a spitfire, and one smart young lady. Helen is teetering on the edge-the deeper she digs, the more fascinated she gets, and it's putting a strain on her relationship with Nate. It seems that Hattie wants her help, but someone else doesn't want her around at all. She feels an increasing sense of urgency to put all the pieces together, before someone else ends up hurt. 

This had just the right amount of spooky moments without going overboard. The land itself played a big part in creating the atmosphere. The brief chapters that go back to Hattie and her descendants, and show what happened to each of them from their viewpoint are key to putting things together, and provide a good break from the present day plot. 

I'd recommend this novel to anyone who wants a slightly haunting tale of righting wrongs, familial love, and tenacious women. The past always remains with us, and restless souls need closure. 

Rating: 4/6 for a solid novel about ghosts, a dark town secret, the thin line between science and the unknown, and the restless dead. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio.

1 comment :

  1. Good review of the specified work. Interesting about how to fix mistakes, return love to the family. Be sure to read to the end.
    term papers that will bring you high scores Good that is available in audio.