Jessica's books

The One and Only Ivan
Revolutionary War on Wednesday
Leprechaun in Late Winter
Ella Enchanted
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Plain Murder
Gone-Away Lake
Circling the Sun
Maggie and Max
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
The Night Sister
Tuck Everlasting
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Bedknob and Broomstick
Mister Monday
Alice Through the Looking Glass
The Birchbark House
The Hobbit
The Witch's Daughter

Jessica's favorite books »

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Book Review: What the Dead Want by Norah Olson

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 

16 -year-old Gretchen takes photographs to understand the world around her, a passion her mother Mona fostered and encouraged when she was still around. Since her mom disappeared years ago, Gretchen and her dad have lived on their own in New York City, haunted by Mona’s absence.

When Gretchen’s great aunt Esther calls unexpectedly to tell her that she has inherited the pre-Civil War mansion on her mother’s side of the family in upstate New York, Gretchen understands nothing except that her aunt needs her help. But what she finds there is beyond her imagination. The house is crumbling apart, filled with stacks of papers and journals from decades, even centuries past, and it’s crawling with rodents. It’s also full of secrets and a legacy of racism and violence so reprehensible that the ghosts of the past are exacting revenge on the living.

Somehow the mystery of Mona’s disappearance and the atrocities that happened on the land during the Civil War are inextricably intertwined, and it’s up to Gretchen to figure out how…before even more lives are lost.

My Thoughts:

This book was an interesting and quick read for me.  It had a lot of action and mystery so I really didn't want to put it down and while it was a little creepy, it wasn't nearly as creepy as I had hoped.  It had some parts that didn't make sense to me and seemed a bit rushed.  There was a lot thrown at you all at once.  

Gretchen lives in New York with her father, sort of.  Gretchen's mother disappeared and now her father tries to keep himself distracted by traveling all over the world as a doctor.  This leaves Gretchen at home with her mother's best friend, Janine.  

One day, out of the blue, Gretchen receives a phone call from her great-aunt, Esther.  Gretchen has never met Esther and only vaguely remembers hearing about her from her mom.  Esther tells Gretchen that she has inherited the Axton mansion.  Esther asks Gretchen to come out to the mansion and help her with it.  The  next day, Gretchen is on her way.  This is one part that was just slightly odd to me.  Gretchen has never met Esther, never been to the mansion and decides that she will go out there for the entire summer to help this woman.  Janine doesn't seem to find anything odd about it, no one consults the father (although he is some poor village with no working phones).  I just don't know if I would have been so ready to just leave everything with a couple hours notice.  

Once at the mansion, Gretchen realizes that it isn't at all what she had expected.  It was dilapidated and weird things start to happen.  Her aunt is a little eccentric and doesn't seem to mind that the mansion is in such a sad state.  

From this point on, I don't want to say a whole lot more about the story.  Everything seems to happen so fast and then the end felt incredibly rushed.  The author did tie up some loose ends but I still had a few questions that were left unanswered.  There were some slightly creepy parts but nothing like what I was hoping or expecting.  

I had some issues with this book but in the end, I enjoyed the fast pace of it and the slight creep factor.  I would have no problem recommending it to anyone but would let them know not to expect anything like Stephen King or John Saul.  


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