Summary: 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.
Review: This is another audiobook that I read for spooky season. I didn’t get all my reviews written and scheduled in time, so we’re keeping the spooky content into November. The Sun Down Motel was confirmation that I love the ‘are the ghosts real or not’ trope in horror/mystery. Another example of this that I liked this season was Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. The Sun Down Motel also had another common element with a few other books I read this October. It tells two stories: one in the past and one in the present. In the present, we are following Carly who finds herself in Fell, New York. The same town that her aunt disappeared in 30 years ago, an event that’s haunted her family since. In the past, we follow Carly’s aunt, Viv, and we get to see what really happened to her all those years ago in that same small town. I loved the back and forth between the past and the present. I loved that the events in the present seemed to mirror and reflect those that happened in the past. I liked Carly and Viv. Both of them made some pretty poor choices, but I liked them anyway. They’re both head strong women that just couldn’t back down from a mystery. Carly’s mystery was her aunt and Viv’s mystery was the serial killer in Fell. I absolutely adored the Sun Down Motel. It was such a weird setting, but I loved it anyway. I thought the ghosts that were there were completely fascinating and I really loved learning more about them and how they ended up stuck there. Overall, I loved this book and I’ll be picking up more of St. James’s books in the future. She tells a suspenseful and emotional story that you just cannot put down until you manage to find every last detail and secret. I loved the setting, the characters, the pace of the story. I loved this book.
Hello, lovelies! I have had some great fun doing the ‘if you liked this book, then try that one’ in the past. So, no big surprise, here I am to do it again today. Today’s comparisons are all going to be recommendations for spooky season. Hopefully, you’ve read some of these so that you can try the books I’d recommend next.
If you liked Sadie by Courtney Summers, you will probably like The Night Swim by Megan Goldin. Sadie follows a young girl named Sadie who is bent on finding her sisters killer and bringing him to justice. While we’re following that story from Sadie’s point of view, we’re listening to West’s podcast which is trying to find the truth about what ultimately happened to Sadie. The Night Swim follows Rachel who has a well known true crime podcast. For her third season, she will be covering an on going court case, a rape trial. While she’s in this small town, she’s approached via letters by someone who grew up there. Her sister was murdered in that town years and years ago, but it was ruled an accidental drowning. I think these stories are comparable because of the podcast element (I did the audiobooks for both of these and would recommend that you do too). Both books also cover some really heavy topics like murder, sexual assault, and rape.
If you liked Home Before Dark by Riley Sager, then you should try The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. Home Before Dark is the story of Maggie alternating between the past and the present. Her father has died and she’s learned that she now owns Baneberry Hall (the house her family fled when she was a child). Her father wrote a non-fiction book about their time at Baneberry Hall (the book is what we get in the past parts of the story). There are so many secrets and deceptions about this book that Maggie’s determined to go back to Baneberry Hall and finally get to the truth for herself. The Sun Down Motel follows Carly, in present day, and Viv, in 1982. Viv went missing and was never found, this is something that her niece, Carly has fixated on. We follow Carly as she follows in her Aunt Viv’s path, coming to the town of Fell, working nights at the Sun Down Motel, trying to solve a mystery. Both of these books have the element of ‘is it ghosts or is there a logical explanation’ which is apparently a horror/mystery trope that I really like. Both stories also give us alternating chapters from the past and the present, with the present reflecting events that happened in the past. If you like spooky murder houses (or motels) you’ll probably like these books.
If you liked They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman, you might like How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao. They Wish They Were Us takes place at an expensive prep school with a “secret” society that everyone knows about. Jill’s best friend died in their Freshman year. Now she’s a senior and it’s her turn to be in charge in this secret group. She’s vowed that she will do things differently. But she’s starting to suspect that her best friends killer might actually be innocent and if he is, then who actually killed her best friend? How We Fall Apart also takes place in an elite prep school. Nancy’s best friend goes missing, and later is found dead. Nancy’s friend group each have secrets, so when an anonymous person named “The Proctor” starts revealing these secrets, the friends band together to try to uncover The Proctor’s identity. The common element for these books is exclusive prep schools and murder. They were both relatively fast paced stories who’s twists I did not guess.
If you liked Small Favors by Erin A. Craig, you will probably like Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth. Small Favors goes through the seasons of a year. And over this year, strange things are happening in the small town she lives in. They’re surrounded by a forest that has legends of being filled with monsters. It’s been years since anyone has seen these monsters, but they might be returning. People are dying and things are getting weirder as the seasons are changing. This book was just full of weirdness in the best way. Plain Bad Heroines follows a few different time periods, but all taking place in the same place: a creepy house/school. This house might actually be cursed. Murder and mystery are what this house is all about and unraveling what’s real and what isn’t is absolutely the appeal of the story. Both of these books follow creepy, atmospheric settings where people are dying and the reason why is unclear.
If you liked Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw, then you should try Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. Winterwood is about a magical (maybe even haunted) forest. Nora and the women in her family have a special connection with this forest. When a boy survives his time in the forest, Nora needs to find out what really happened. Wild Beauty is about a lush garden estate that is cared for by the Nomeolvides family. They all have flower magic. But their curse is that the men they love always leave them. Until one day, the gardens give them a boy instead of taking one. Both of these stories involve magical nature. They also involve boys mysteriously appearing from the flowers and the forest. I think the biggest difference is that Wild Beauty is a story that feels like spring and Winterwood is a fall/winter story. Both are magical and mysterious.
These are the books that I’ve chosen for comparison and recommendation today. Have you read any of these? Would you agree or disagree with any of my comparisons? Are there any books that you would recommend with the books I’ve chosen? Let me know!