Kathleen McKenna's explosive third novel 'The Wedding Gift' excels in so many categories it defies them all. It is a spine-electrifying supernatural tale where a huge Southern States mansion contains one of the most terrifying, violent and indeed psychopathic ghosts to haunt any town. It is also a murder mystery - why did Robina Willets apparently kill all five of her young children, and her husband, before stabbing herself to death? And, if you are in the camp of believing that 'justice .... just is not', then this will have you frothing at the mouth with righteous social fury. Add to that the vision of two exceptionally beautiful girls lying on a landing stage in the middle of a secluded lake, sleeping naked in the sun .... .... and then see if you can find any consecutive ten minutes in this book when you don't at least snicker at the heroine Leeann's sly, caustic, sometimes-knowing sometimes 'too stupid to live' commentary. "Several times in the 'The Wedding Gift' Kathleen McKenna has the narrator bursting out with phrases like 'Oh shoot, hell yeah, he was grinning like an egg suck dog' or words to that affect. Well, that was me she was describing throughout the book, grinning like an egg suck dog. I don't know what one of those might be, but I sure want to be one," Tim Roux, author of 'Missio' and 'The Dance of the Pheasodile'
My thoughts: I honestly have to say that I enjoyed this book a lot. I love a good, scary ghost story. That's what I thought I was getting when I picked this book up. Boy, was I wrong! I mean, it was a ghost story...but I didn't think it was really that scary. It was funny however and that added to its charm!
Leeann is young and the most beautiful girl in her small town in Oklahoma. In fact, she will tell how beautiful she is many times throughout the book. She gets caught up in a one-sided romance with the son of the richest family in town and pretty soon is pregnant and engaged. This is not exactly how she pictured her life. Her dream was marrying her brother's friend, Donny and have 2 perfect kids and living happily ever after. But, George Willets is rich and showers her with gifts and she is pregnant with his child so when he proposes (with a huge diamond of course), Leeann accepts.
As a wedding gift, the couple is given the Willet's House, a huge mansion that has a sordid history. Years ago, George's uncle and his children were killed in that house by George's Aunt Robina. Or so the story goes...
After Leeann moves in, she is haunted by Robina's ghost. Only when the unthinkable happens do we really find out what happened all those years ago.
This story is told by Leeann. I loved how it read like you were literally sitting down with the character and chatting with her over coffee. There was no formality at all. It read like someone transcribed a conversation word for word. However, there are times when Leeann gets completely annoying with her vanity and dumbness!
Leanne is hilarious! She is young and naive and totally overwhelmed by all the riches that George lavishes on her. She is absolutely not ready for marriage however and we see how immature she really is (which, being only 17 is to be totally expected). She loves lavender and would rather spend her honeymoon with her best friend, Jessie. Did I mention she was young and immature?
This story did have some scary parts in it and the mystery kept me on the edge of my seat. However, because of Leeann narrating the story, it was a pretty light and fun read as well. If you are looking for a Stephen King-like novel, this would not be it. However if you are looking for a fun, easy and slightly ghostly mystery, I think you will enjoy this one!