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!

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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 LAST THING HE TOLD ME by Laura Dave


Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 4, 2021

Wow, I loved this book! THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME is an unputdownable twisty suspense novel and family drama that hooked me right away.

Owen and Hannah have only been married a short time when he suddenly disappears. Owen’s last message to Hannah was a note saying, “Protect her,” and she immediately knows he’s referring to his 16-year old daughter, Bailey, whose own mother died when she was very young.

Hannah and her stepdaughter have a chilly relationship, with Bailey wanting nothing to do with her. However, their quest to figure out what happened to Owen and what he’s been hiding begins to change their dynamic.

This is one of the best domestic suspense novels I’ve read, with realistic characters and a believable story. I enjoyed the author’s wonderful, absorbing writing. The last line of the book got me choked up a bit! Highly recommended. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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

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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.

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THE SWEET TASTE OF MUSCADINES by Pamela Terry


Publisher: Ballentine Books
Release Date: March 16, 2021

β˜† Stunning Debut β˜†

THE SWEET TASTE OF MUSCADINES is a gorgeously written novel about siblings who uncover shocking family secrets after their mother Geneva Bruce dies unexpectedly.

Lila and Henry have avoided their childhood home in Wesleyan, Georgia, for most of their adult lives. Their relationship with Geneva was strained, yet their younger sister (who never left) was very close to their mother. All three Bruce children are baffled as to why Geneva died under the muscadine arbor in the middle of the night, and they also have no idea about the secrets she kept hidden for decades that will upend their lives.

The prose is lovely and lyrical, and you can pull passages from every page and say “wow!” As someone who grew up in small-town Georgia, I can say that the author perfectly captured the South in her rich descriptions and within her characters. If you enjoy compelling women’s fiction with true Southern flair, move this book to the top of your list! β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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

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