Author: Simone St. James
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Published: April 2016, Blackstone Audio / NAL
Length: 10 hours 23 minutes / 336 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Netgalley
England, 1921. Three years after her husband, Alex, disappeared, shot down over Germany, Jo Manders still mourns his loss. Working as a paid companion to Alex's wealthy, condescending aunt, Dottie Forsyth, Jo travels to the family’s estate in the Sussex countryside. But there is much she never knew about her husband’s origins…and the revelation of a mysterious death in the Forsyths’ past is just the beginning…
All is not well at Wych Elm House. Dottie's husband is distant, and her son was grievously injured in the war. Footsteps follow Jo down empty halls, and items in her bedroom are eerily rearranged. The locals say the family is cursed, and that a ghost in the woods has never rested. And when Jo discovers her husband’s darkest secrets, she wonders if she ever really knew him. Isolated in a place of deception and grief, she must find the truth or lose herself forever.
And then a familiar stranger arrives at Wych Elm House…
My thoughts: This is the first book I've read/listened to by Simone St. James, but it definitely won't be the last. From the very beginning, I found myself captivated by the story and I loved the combination of love story, ghost story and mystery all tied together.
I loved Jo. She takes on the job as assistant to her husband's Aunt when it is determined that he is presumed dead, and she is left with virtually nothing. After arriving at the family's country estate, strange things start happening and very slowly the things get a little creepier, secrets start to come out and the suspense ratchets up a notch! And Jo is unwilling to let things go...she is determined to figure things out...I loved that about her!
There are great characters in this book. They are complex and intriguing, leaving you wanting to know more about them. There's also a haunted house set near a forest...hello atmospheric novel!
This book took me by surprise...I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did and now I can't wait to go back and pick up some of Simone St. James' previous books. Have you read any of her other books? If so, what do you suggest I read next?
Audio thoughts: I loved the audio of this book...it was the first time I've listened to Justine Eyre and I thought she did a great job with the voices and the pacing of the story. It added to the tension and suspense quite well.