Review of “The Haunting of Maddy Clare”

author’s pic

The Stuff: In 1920s London, Sarah Piper gets a call from the temporary agency that employs her. She must meet a man in a coffee shop for the details. Everything about this job screams no, but she is behind on the rent.

Wealthy Alistair Gellis proposes an outlandish assignment. Sarah is to travel to the country to see a ghost who hates men. This ghost has already bested a local vicar, and the landowner, Mrs. Clare, will not allow Gellis, or his usual assistant, Mathew Ryder, into the barn where she appears.

Maddy, Mrs. Clare says, can be mischievous and loves to play pranks, but she is not dangerous. She was a young girl who turned up one night, unable to speak, and filthy, having been abused. The girl worked for them as a maid until she hanged herself in the barn.

Thoughts:

This is a creepy story and a great page-turner. Maddy is one mean, scare-the-bejesus-out-of-you ghost. She can speak in another’s mind and show terrifyingly convincing hallucinations. The ghost is righteously pissed off and damned if someone isn’t going to pay for it.

On the negative side, there is the obligatory roll in the hay. We get to hear in detail about Sarah’s arousal (tell me all about it…) at the sight of a man who intrigues her but about whom she knows little, other than he received grievous injuries in the recent war.

Oh, ICK. No chance to fall in love or to get to know each other. And we get a play-by-play account of the sheet-side action. No room for the imagination. I know, it’s de rigueur, but come on. The encounter is titillation for the reader, completely without emotional depth. *snore*

Nevertheless, when the characters aren’t busy with each other, this is a good old-fashioned scary ghost story.

Many thanks to my friend Tracy who passed the book on to me.

Bio: Simone St. James is a Canadian author of mystery, historical fiction, and romance novels. According to the author’s blurb, St. James worked behind the scenes in the television industry for twenty years before leaving to write full-time. Her books include The Other Side of Midnight (2015), The Sun Down Motel (2020), and The Book of Cold Case (2022). She lives outside of Toronto with her husband and spoiled cat.

Title: The Haunting of Maddy Clare
Author: Simone St. James
First published: 2012

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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