Releasing this month!
Thanks to Berkley for the free early copies in exchange for our honest reviews
THE SUN DOWN MOTEL – Simone St. James (Releasing February 18th, 2020)
You can see my thoughts to St. James’ other release, THE BROKEN GIRLS, here
The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.
Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…
Chandra’s Thoughts: 3.5/5 stars
This author has a way with writing ghostly, atmospheric reads. This is my second by her and I found it somewhat similar to The Broken Girl, which I read a couple of years ago. Spanning two different timelines, this one runs in the early 80s and then in 2017. (Hello good old ’80s vibes – I am never unhappy about these kinds of references!) Carly has arrived to Fells and The Sun Down Motel to see what may have happened in the disappearance of her aunt, Viv and ends up finding out way more than was expected.
This story has a delicious dark, eerie and ghostly feel to it. I don’t think I’d ever work the night shift at a hotel that’s practically in the middle of nowhere. And I certainly wouldn’t do it after noticing weird happenings – smells, noises, doors opening… um, yeah. No thank you! I do appreciate that these ghosts aren’t here to just scare the reader, or the characters – they’re here for the purposes of the mystery within.
I do think that there was a bit of repetitiveness. I’m not sure if that’s just because of the dual time lines reflecting each other between Viv and Carly to meld their stories together or if there was just a sense of continuity that could *sometimes* make me wonder whose story I was reading. I didn’t find anything crazy or OMG as I was reading but this isn’t that type of read, in my opinion. What we get is a thoroughly atmospheric and at some points, extremely spooky, read. And this is what this author does SO VERY WELL.
If you’re looking for a slow burn of a ghostly story, this is the read for you. The type of read you don’t need a big twist to keep you satisfied, but I do wish I had a little bit more from the ending.
My Thoughts: 4/5 stars
This is my second book from Simone St. James and I was reminded why I enjoyed THE BROKEN GIRLS so much. THE SUN DOWN MOTEL has an incredibly eerie and unsettling atmosphere to it. Just something foreboding about the whole book and it gives the reader that uneasy feeling. More of a slower building mystery than a fast-paced thriller, but the author still grabs you from the very start.
We get the alternating timelines between 1982 and present day. Carly decides she is going to look into the disappearance of her Aunt Viv, so she makes her way to the Sun Down Motel where Viv had worked the night shift. What happened to her? Where did she go? Taking the same night shift job that her aunt had, Carly figures that she could learn more about what could have happened – of course, everything isn’t always as it seems.
The detail that St. James puts into this book is incredible. She sets the scene, creates the atmosphere, and really drops you into the reality with Carly and Viv. Like some other reviewers, I did find some parts feeling repetitive, but it didn’t completely ruin the pacing for me. Overall, a great ghost story that was beautifully written with an almost claustrophobic feel. I need to go back and pick up more from St. James!