The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A damn good gothic. Superb unsettling details (the smoking man, the flickering lights, the child running by the pool), a twisty plot, an actual good use of two time periods, and excellent characters that did things because of their personalities and motivations and not because the plot required them to. Made all the other gothics I read (or tried reading) throughout the spooky season pale by comparison.

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The Stranger Diaries (Harbinder Kaur #1) by Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a sucker for literary mysteries and modern gothic. Bonus points to this one because I’ve actually read M.R. James, the renowned Victorian ghost-story writer who inspired Griffith’s R.M. Holland, and all the point of view characters are women that are taken seriously and treated with respect by colleagues, friends, and family.

Multiple POVs in a mystery story can be a trap for too much retelling or too much hiding things from the audience because–gasp–one of the POV characters is actually the killer(!), but Griffiths avoids both of these potential pitfalls. I actually enjoyed the different characters’ perspectives on each other, and the re-treading of events was kept to a minimum, and only to provide me with additional information, not self-indulgent or unnecessary wandering.

Twisty, spooky, thrilling, and smart, this book is a thoroughly enjoyable, fast read that has me already reaching for more of Elly Griffiths’s work.

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