A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Timesbestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don’t simply move into a haunted house, they start building one from scratch, without knowing it, until it’s too late . . .
In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and their teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home–wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks–she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie’s descendants, three generations of “Breckenridge women,” each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day.
I’m really behind on my Jennifer McMahon books. The last one I read was The Winter People, which was an easy five stars for me. When I saw The Invited on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it.
This author is certainly talented at creating a chilling, atmospheric setting. Forty-four acres of rural land, very few neighbors, and creepy bog? Oh, and someone died by hanging at the bog? Perfect. Throw in a main character who uses building materials from allegedly haunted locations? Disturbing. The author also weaves in some spine-tingling visuals – nothing that kept me up at night, but I’m a horror fan, so that’s a difficult task to accomplish.
The characters are likable in the beginning, but once the supernatural events begin, they’re at each other’s throats. While both Nate and Helen develop individual obsessions, the reader feels the same frustrations with them as the characters do with each other. Honestly, if I was Nate, I probably would have tossed Helen out on her keester. They’re also pretty slow to realize things aren’t quite right in their neck of the woods.
Maybe it was because I read an ARC, but several things are mentioned in the book that didn’t happen – events, something a character said, etc. Like maybe the author meant to go back and add things during revisions, but forgot?
The Invited is a slow burn, supernatural tale that starts off a bit sluggish, but picks up around the 45% mark. Enough hints are dropped that readers will probably figure out the twists before the ending, but it was an enjoyable read for me.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.