The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

tmp_dn4FWX_4947357a06bbc6fa_TheSunDownMotel_UPDATEDThe Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Publishing February 18, 2020

This is one of the best mystery books I have read in a long time! I normally don’t read books with supernatural elements, but this one was done so well that I would read it again and again! Fans of Stranger Things would love this book! Atmospheric, creepy, suspenseful, and so hard to put down! The story unfolds in dual narratives between Viv in 1982, and her niece Carly in 2017, who have very similar lifestyle choices, despite the age gap of 35 years and that Carly wasn’t even born when Viv disappeared. This is the story of the doomed Sun Down Motel, the strangely compelling town of Fell, New York, and a string of murdered girls with unsolved cases and unfinished business.

1982: Viv doesn’t get along with her mother. She takes off on her own, ending up in Fell, New York where she accepts a night shift position at the Sun Down Motel, a place full of secrets and not much business. She finds a roommate, Jenny, who isn’t really around much, so she spends most all of her time alone. The Sun Down Motel is rumored to be haunted, and it doesn’t take long for Viv to become intrigued, and spooked by its mystery. A young boy died in the pool a few years back, which is now closed down and deserted. Even more disturbing is the string of young women who have been murdered in the small town as of late. Viv is so bothered by the unsolved cases that she begins to retrace the final days of each victim, becoming totally consumed by her amateur, but surprisingly valid findings. She makes a friend with a local police woman, Alma, who doesn’t believe Viv. She thinks Viv spends too much time at the Sun Down and tries to get her to seek therapy. Viv is brave and tenacious, continuing to investigate even when she starts to feel real danger. The killer is still walking free in Fell, and Viv is determined to stop him at all costs.

2017: After losing her mother to cancer, Carly is sort of over college, so she leaves Illinois and makes her way to upstate New York, to the town of Fell, where her aunt Viv spent her last days before she died. It pains Carly to know that her mother died grieving her only sister, believing her to be dead, and never knowing the truth about what really happened to her. Carly lucks out and finds Heather, who turns out to be a great roommate and friend. When she arrives at the rundown, eerie Sun Down Motel to retrace the steps of her aunt Viv, Carly ends up with a night shift job, the very job that her aunt Viv had 35 years prior. What could possibly go wrong? It will give her time to investigate and try to figure out what happened to Viv. Buckle up, Carly, because the Sun Down Motel is ready for you. The question is…is Carly prepared for it?

I absolutely loved this book with the strong female characters. Original, well-written, and unputdownable! It gave me chills at many points along the way. Now I’m off to read more of Simone St. James’s books.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an early copy of this title.

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

15797848Stephanie Perkins’ YA horror/thriller novel, There’s Someone Inside Your House, will have adults and teens alike reeling until the very last page. Think Scream, but much more original and clever! Try to go right to sleep after finishing this book and let me know how that works out for you. It certainly didn’t work for me!

Makani left Hawaii and is now in her senior year at a small school in rural Nebraska, in the farming town of Osborne. She lives with her aging, and somewhat senile grandmother, sent to help her by her soon-to-be-divorced and non-present parents, who stayed behind in Hawaii. Her two best friends are Alex and Darby, and though she sometimes feels like the third-wheel of the group, she is going through the motions of surviving high school, all the while trying to keep a low profile so that no one finds out the true reason she left Hawaii and changed her last name to Young. Makani starts to take a renewed interest in Ollie Larssen, one of her classmates who is sexy and mysterious, but doesn’t care what others think about him, or his recent hot pink hair color. Ollie lives with his slightly older brother, Chris, a town police officer, because their parents were killed by a drunk driver a few years ago.

As Makani and Ollie get to know each other better (nothing like a good steamy romance!), random high school students are being brutally murdered one-by-one.  Makani fearfully begins to wonder who will be next. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how the students are being chosen at random, but Makani can’t help but wonder if her past and the incident in Hawaii is finally catching up with her in Nebraska. The murders start to increase at an alarming rate, but the killer manages to escape capture, leaving a gruesome setup at each murder scene.

The book is packed with both fear and romance, a killer combination that will keep readers fascinated. I couldn’t put the book down! It was a very fast read, but the scenes and grisly details stayed with me well after I had read the last page. The murder scenes were bizarre and original, causing Perkins’ first horror novel to be a stand-out from other books of this genre.

Perhaps my favorite thing about the book is that the killer is revealed about three-quarters of the way through the book, and readers don’t have to wait until the final page to know who it is. However, even after the killer is revealed (in a most unsettling & painful way for Makani and Ollie, by the way), he/she keeps on killing, right under everyone’s noses. It’s crazy! The plot is original, wildly entertaining, and filled with creepy moments. When you start a young adult novel and one of the characters is murdered savagely in the first chapter, you know it’s going to be a game-changer for young adult horror. Fans of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer will absolutely love this book!

To quote of my high school student readers, “It was a real slasher!” (She gave it a 10 of 10.)

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

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The Darkest Corners offers fast-paced thrills and suspense. The main character, Tessa, is sort of an unreliable narrator, causing readers to wonder whether she can truly be trusted, or if she is in on some secret herself. As more of Tessa’s family history and past is revealed, readers may start to feel sorry for her, rooting for her to make it out of the nightmare her life has become.

We first meet Tessa as she travels from Florida, where she lives with her aging Gram, back to her hometown. She hasn’t been back in 10 years, and is only going to say goodbye to her father, who is in prison and dying of cancer. He has been in prison for most of her life, and the memories of her father from childhood are mostly sad and violent. Tessa ends up staying with her former best friend and childhood playmate, Callie, who she also hasn’t seen in 10 years. Callie was born into a loving, stable family whereas Tessa came from the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak. Despite their differences, they were best friends once, prior to being separated at the age of 8. Now, neither wants to admit the truth of what actually happened 10 years ago to the other.

While they are in a sort of standstill with each other, one of their mutual old friends, Arial, goes missing and her body is found shortly thereafter. Her murder matches that of the Ohio River Monster, a man named Stokes, who is only behind bars because of 8 year old Callie’s and Tessa’s testifying that he abducted and then killed Callie’s cousin, Lori. So, if Stokes is still locked up, does that mean the Ohio River Monster is still on the loose and has been the whole time? Add into the mix that neither Tessa’s mother or sister have contacted her in 10 years and she is unable to locate either of them. What does that mean for Tessa? Who can she trust, and why is her family in hiding? Tessa has to figure out who the real serial killer is before it’s too late.

The ending is totally unexpected and will throw readers for a tailspin, in a good way, of course. I very much enjoyed this book and would recommend it to suspense, mystery, and thriller fans.