Some of us like the dark. It’s what we know.
Published: February 18, 2020
Length: About 11 hours (Audiobook)
Series: N/A – Standalone
What if everything I’ve seen, everything I think, is true?
Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why.
Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.
Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.
I knew I was going to love this the minute I heard the dedication: For the odd girls, the nerdy girls, and the murderinos. This one is yours.
That’s me. I’m that girl.
I have been excited about this book since I finished The Broken Girls last year and I put in a library hold immediately. Four months later, and I devoured this audiobook in two short days and I was so upset there wasn’t more. I can’t even express how much I loved this book. I’m going to break it down further, of course, but please know that this just might be my favorite read of 2020.
The Writing: I love Simone St. James’ writing style. She’s so good at creating these tense, spooky and atmospheric places with all these equally creepy and sketchy people involved. The setting was really part of what grabbed me when I read the synopsis for the first time; a nearly abandoned, and probably haunted, motel in upstate New York, in a small college town where girls disappear and no one cares. She was able to create this threatening and isolated town where you weren’t sure who was real and who was a ghost, not to mention who was good and who was bad. Simone’s writing is so full of skill that it’s nearly impossible to stop listening/reading. You just want to go on and on and live in this world forever. It’s the epitome of an un-put-downable read.
The Plot: Okay so this book, much like The Broken Girls, really caught my attention because I love a good ghost story. I love books, especially thriller/mystery books, where there is a paranormal/supernatural element. Ghost stories are my jam. That, and I love historical timelines. This was an overall win win and I knew I’d enjoy it. The story bounces back between Viv in 1982 and her niece, Carly, in 2017. Same town. Same motel. Same mysterious players. Same ghosts.
This takes the mystery up a notch because there’s not just one missing girl, there’s at least three other girls who have been murdered in Fell. Carly, a true crime lover since she was a child, decides to take some time and visit Fell, looking into the disappearance of her aunt all those years ago. What follows is an absolutely chilling, twisted tale of ghostly clues and murdered girls. I loved the aspect of Carly (and Viv) being concerned and investigating things on their own; we’ve been hearing so much about investigative journalists and arm chair Reddit detectives solving cases and I loved getting to see that aspect played out here with two smart, tenacious, resourceful women. It felt like an ode to feminism and the very essence of My Favorite Murder’s catch phrase, Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered. I couldn’t get enough.
The Characters: Usually when I’m reading a book like this that flips between timelines I find myself gravitating more towards a certain character/time, but that really wasn’t the case here. I enjoyed both Carly and Viv’s story lines and I appreciated that there were two different narrators for their sections, it helped to keep the two separate and keep me in the story. I loved that Carly was a murderino (true crime lover) just like me; I felt like I was reading a book about myself solving a mystery. She was smart, resourceful, witty, and I loved that she was really putting the work in to try and figure out what secrets were hiding in Fell.
There were a lot of side characters I adored as well. Heather was like the best friend I never knew I needed. Jessie may have been a small time pot dealer, but he was actually kind of a babe. Nick had a tortured past, but damn it all he was a catch. And then there were the other women in this book; the female officer and the photographer. Complete bad asses, both of them. I loved every character in this story, even the bad ones.
The narrators for this were really great, too. Again, I liked that they used two different ones for Viv and Carly; it made it easier to see their personalities and be able to distinguish their unique voices. The ghost moments were downright terrifying. The murder mystery itself was chilling. And everything about this book was great and I’m so sad it’s over.
I’ll be reading more of Simone St. James’ backlist and patiently awaiting news of a new book!
Other Books by Simone St. James