The Sun Down Motel
This book was originally our August Book Club pick, but it seems like everyone has been so busy that we’ve only been meeting about every other month. This month we read The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. It is a mysterious, spooky read. Our book club all really enjoyed it.
The world was different at night. Not just dark, not just quiet, but different. Three o’clock in the morning was the worst time, almost delirious, when she could half believe anything could happen — ghosts, elves, time travel, every Twilight Zone episode she’d ever seen.
And she sort of liked it.
Night people were not the same as day people. The good people of Fell, whoever they were, were sound asleep at three a.m. Those people never saw the people Viv saw: the cheating couples having affairs, the truckers strung out on whatever they took to stay away, the women with blackened eyes who checked out at five a.m. to futilely go home again. These weren’t people suburban Viv Delaney would ever have seen in a hundred years. They weren’t people she would ever have talked to. There was an edge to them, a hard collision with life, that she hadn’t known was possible in her soft cocoon. It wasn’t romantic, but something about it drew her. It fascinated her. She didn’t want to look away.The Sun Down Motel, Simone St. James
The Publisher’s Synopsis…
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 in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.
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.
What I Thought…
I really enjoyed this book. It was a little creepy, mysterious, and light-hearted all rolled together into a great piece of fiction. I’m a sucker for books that have different alternating timelines and go weave the characters together seamlessly. This book has it all.
The Sun Down Motel is set in two different timelines, 2017 and 1982. We learn that in 1982, Viv Delaney (one of our main characters) is struggling with her parents’ divorce, being controlled by her mother, and failing to live up to her sister’s standards. She runs off intending to make it big in New York City but winds up in the small upstate town of Fell, NY. She ends up falling into a job at the Sun Down Motel, a rundown motor lodge, watching the office during the night shift.
The Sun Down Motel is also one of the main characters in this story. It’s also definitely haunted. It also is quite run-down and old-fashioned. Viv’s first encounter of the supernatural is as innocent as cigarette smoke and then is later startled by the ghost of an angry woman, Betty Graham. We learn that Betty was murdered and dumped at the site the hotel now occupies.
Viv becomes somewhat of an amateur detective and begins to research Betty and learns about a string of murdered women in Fell. Viv comes to find out that the women are all connected to each other and to The Sun Down Motel.
The alternate story that is woven nicely into the book is the story of Viv’s niece Carly in 1982. Carly is somewhat obsessed with the story of the unsolved disappearance of her mother’s sister and goes to look for her Aunt Viv. Carly starts working at the same hotel as her aunt and even moves into the same apartment that she occupied all of those years ago. She too begins to research the grizzly murders that have haunted Fell for decades. The same ghosts eventually show up as well.
The alternating timelines work perfectly at creating tension for the reader. Just when you start to think the author is going to let you know about Viv or Carly, she changes the timeline. Since we know Viv disappeared in 1982, her storyline basically has the suspense of a clock counting down. We know that something happened to her, but we don’t know what. The author really lets us feel the acute danger that she is in.
I would definitely recommend this book. It’s mysterious, spooky, and very well-written.
Next Month’s Selection…
A Few Other Titles I Enjoyed Over The Last Few Months…
So what are you reading this month?? I would love to hear, I’m always on the lookout for my next favorite read.
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