Monday, January 16, 2012

The Haunting of Maddy Clare-Simone St. James

The Haunting of Maddy Clare

Simone St. James

NAL, Mar 6 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780451235688

In 1922 London, ghost researcher Alistair Gelles hires Sarah Piper as his temporary assistant. He explains to her that his permanent assistant Matthew Ryder is visiting his pregnant sister and that the patron Mrs. Clare asks for a female to get the ghost of the late serving girl Maddy, who hung herself, to leave.

Sarah enters the barn alone. She finds the barn on fire. She escapes, but once outside the barn is fine. She tells Alistair and Matthew who arrives what happened. Later she sees the scars on Matthew’s back, but he misunderstands her reaction as he assumes his war injuries horrify her. Instead she thinks he is beautiful. The team learns Maddy arrived battered and mute at the Clare farm when she was twelve. Sarah asks Maddy about her suicide note in which she said “I will kill them.” Later Sarah and Matthew have sex, but afterward he apologizes, which hurts her. The trio enters the barn. Matthew sees Maddy; Sarah senses Maddy is near; and Alistair hears music. Maddy tells Sarah that three men violated her as a little girl and she wants revenge. She orders Sarah to find them and her gravesite. Mrs. Clare smashes an oil lamp causing a fire. Matthew rescues Alistair who thinks he is back in combat. Sarah and Matthew investigate when the first unexplained (except by an avenging ghost) murder occurs.

This is an entertaining Post WWI British haunted barn thriller in which the researchers are fully developed, the ghost seems real, and the townsfolk enhance the enjoyable story line. Although the prime romantic subplot between the two research assistants feels forced and unnecessary, fans will appreciate Simone St. James’s well written early twentieth century ghost story.

Harriet Klausner

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