THE LISTENING HOUSE by Mabel Seeley


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 8, 2021

First published in 1938, THE LISTENING HOUSE was the debut crime novel of Mabel Seeley, who came to be known as β€œThe Mistress of Mystery.” I’m glad Berkley is reissuing some of her books, because before spotting this one I was not familiar with Seeley’s work.

The main character Gwynne Dacres is a young, independent woman, making her way through the Depression years. After losing her job as a copywriter, she moves into a creepy boarding house run by a grumpy, paranoid woman who’s convinced her tenants are snooping through her things.

Gwynne, too, feels like there’s something off about the house, that something or someone is always listening. Her situation becomes more precarious when back to back suspicious deaths occur at the house. Gwynne gets wrapped up in the investigation when someone targets her, and uncovers some sinister secrets tied to the past.

There was a big group of potential suspects, and I enjoyed their characterizations. I definitely felt like I was sitting among a group of real folks from the 1930s. The mystery was dark and intricate, though I think it dragged in some places. There was even a romance for Gwynne, and plenty of humor mixed in. I’d recommend to fans of mysteries who enjoy the golden age of detective fiction. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Β 

THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR by Anne Rivers Siddons


Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: July 3, 2007 β€” Reprint edition
(First published in 1978)

I’ve seen THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR on so many “Best of Horror” lists, and now I know why. It’s an enthralling blend of Southern gothic fiction and quiet horror. The creepy, slow-build kind that makes you question what’s really going on, something sinister or is your mind playing tricks?

This book was originally published in the 1970s and is set during that time. Colquitt and her husband Walter live in an upscale Atlanta neighborhood. There’s a lot of tennis at the club, parties with the neighbors, and day drinking for these folks. Don’t get me wrong! I liked Colquitt and Walter.

For many years an empty wooded “unbuildable” lot sat next to their house, and that’s how they liked it. Then one day, a talented young architect finds a way to build newlyweds their modern dream home on that lot. Neighbors don’t like it, but what can you do? They welcome the couple into the fold, then have to stand back helplessly while their dream home becomes a nightmare. And this happens over and over, tragedy finding each family that moves in.

“In the moonlight the ice-sheathed trees tossed and tinkled like great crystal hands fingering the sky, weaving and reweaving an incantation over the sweetly sleeping shape of the house next door.”

I greatly enjoyed the author’s haunting, beautiful writing and her flawed & memorable characters. I especially loved trying to figure out that malevolent house and its terrible influence on the occupants & neighbors. This is the first book by Siddons I’ve read, and I understand her other books are more contemporary Southern fiction β€” probably wonderful, but I so wish she had written more horror like THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR. Fantastic! β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

Check out the different covers over the years, from 1978 to 2007. Such big difference! From horror to mystery/suspense to women’s fiction, maybe? I don’t think the most recent cover fits the story at all!

Vintage Gothic Romance: GHOSTWIND by Rachel Ann Payne


Publisher: Paperback Library
Release Date: November 1966

“A madman stalks Jane Corby at sinister Hampton Hill.”

Oh, Jane Corby! Just ever so slightly too dumb to live. It’s 1867, and Jane, a young New York City librarian, is hired to catalog the extensive library at Hampton Hill, a mansion in a remote area near Syracuse. Locals aren’t too keen on the house’s new owner, the reclusive Captain Ralf Hampton. Something is off about him, his fickle personality, and his entire situation, but Jane can’t help falling in love.

“You just be sure he’s not a wicked man with a key to your door.”

The first half of the book was a little slow, and I did not understand Jane’s insta-love for Ralf, considering she felt threatened by his abusive temperament much of the time. By the second half, the pacing picked up as Jane set out to uncover the mysteries of Hampton Hill and the creepy family vault in the cemetery. I enjoyed the twists and a bit of Civil War history woven into the story, plus, how wonderful that Jane is a librarian. Rating: Good.

GHOSTWIND was originally published in 1966 by Paperback Library. Rachel Ann Payne is a pen name used by John Jakes. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

THE DROWNING KIND by Jennifer McMahon


Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Release Date: April 6, 2021

β˜† Don’t go near the water β˜†

THE DROWNING KIND is a wonderfully creepy book! In Brandenburg, Vermont, and surrounding areas, the legend is that a dark pool of water fed by a natural spring has the power to grant wishes β€” but when it gives, it also takes something away.

The murky water connects the two storylines in this book: Ethel in 1929, desperately wishing for a child of her own, and Jax in present day, returning to her deceased grandmother’s home after her sister Lexie drowns in the pool. In her last weeks, Lexie uncovered clues to the history of pool, but will Jax be able to decipher her sister’s notes and discover what’s really at the bottom?

This was an eerie, atmospheric story with a vivid sense of place. The pool itself felt alive and so menacing! The ending was quite a shocker. It’s one that I had to reread just to make sure I understood what happened. I was left with some lingering questions, but overall I enjoyed it. I connected most with Ethel’s story and my heart went out to her. Recommended to fans of haunting, slow-burn paranormal suspense. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

πŸ“š Find THE DROWNING KIND on GoodreadsΒ πŸ“š

WATCH OVER ME by Nina LaCour


Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 15, 2020

β˜† Major Cover Love β˜†

WATCH OVER ME is a unique modern ghost story mixed with magical realism that’s easy to get lost in.

After spending a few years in foster care, Mila has finally aged out of the system. She accepts a teaching job for a homeschool on an isolated farm in Northern California. The farm is a special place, home to foster kids of all ages dealing with a traumatic past. Mila is hoping this is a peaceful place where she will finally fit in, but nobody told her about the ghosts.

Though it’s a short novel, WATCH OVER ME packs an emotional punch. Beautiful prose. Melancholy and heartwarming at the same time. This is a lovey introspective and haunting YA novel about grief, loss, guilt, and healing. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

πŸ“š Find WATCH OVER ME on Goodreads πŸ“š