by Wendy Webb
Amazon / Goodreads
Plot Summary:Recently widowed and rendered penniless by her Ponzi-scheming husband, Julia Bishop is eager to start anew. So when a stranger appears on her doorstep with a job offer, she finds herself accepting the mysterious yet unique position: caretaker to his mother, Amaris Sinclair, the famous and rather eccentric horror novelist whom Julia has always admired…and who the world believes is dead.
When she arrives at the Sinclairs' enormous estate on Lake Superior, Julia begins to suspect that there may be sinister undercurrents to her "too-good-to-be-true" position. As Julia delves into the reasons of why Amaris chose to abandon her successful writing career and withdraw from the public eye, her search leads to unsettling connections to her own family tree, making her wonder why she really was invited to Havenwood in the first place, and what monstrous secrets are still held prisoner within its walls.
Review:This was a very creepy and atmospheric read perfectly set up by the prologue where an unspecified evil is released into the Havenwood house. When Julia Bishop, in present time, arrives at Havenwood there are many unsettling occurrences to make her question her decision to stay. And there are many red herrings as well to confuse the reader on whether or not what Julia is seeing is just in her head or actually happening.
Overall I found this a really engaging and eerie read with an interesting cast of characters who, although they were not completely fleshed out for me, were all so ambiguous from the start that they were very intriguing. The main focus of this book is on the ghost story and in capturing the ominous feeling of being in a house that holds dark secrets so character development seemed sort of pushed to the background. Even with Julia, I did understand why she couldn't leave Havenwood, but there were times when I felt she acted very irrationally. There was also a little romance between her and Drew which felt tacked on and not really necessary to the plot.
While the ghost story aspect was very gripping, I thought the resolution was a let down. I don't want to reveal any spoilers though because the twist is very good, but everything was tied up very quickly and too easily for me to feel it was believable. Especially when I had more than a few question in the end about why certain things happened. It was very disappointing for a book with such a great set-up and so many bizarrely creepy moments. But if you really like atmospheric ghost stories that will keep you up late - eager to know what happens next - this might be a great read for you.
(I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.)