Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Book Review - The Invited by Jennifer McMahon


The Invited by Jennifer McMahon is about a couple who decides to move to a rural area to live off the land. After Helen’s father passes, Helen misses him deeply and wishes for a way to connect with him. Helen and Nate planned to sell their suburban condo and leave their cushy private school teaching jobs to live in a cabin in the middle of nowhere.

After searching through countless homes, the pair decide to build their dream house from scratch. They thought it was the best way to pay homage to her father who was a contractor.  He built numerous houses from the ground up. Helen remembers all the pleasant times she had with her beloved father while they were building houses together.


Using the inheritance Helen received, they build their house on forty four acres of rural land that is near a bog. While building, they heard rumors of the dark and violent past surrounding the property.  Helen was a former history teacher and she finds herself obsessed with the previous owner, Hattie Breckenridge. 


Hattie is a local legend in the area. People are not too sure of the circumstances surrounding her death a century ago but they do know that she haunts anyone who lives on her land. Helen is determined to find out what happened and believes that she has a connection with Hattie. Helen starts to collect artifacts that have a dark and violent history. She feels that these objects are imbued with special energies that can connect her with Hattie.


As Helen delves deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, she is drawn to these women who died violently at a young age. As Helen gathers the items, the house becomes a safe haven and in-between for the ghosts of the women tied to these artifacts. They connect and bond with their ancestors while Helen helps them find peace. However, when Helen collects all the pieces Hattie requests, she realizes that Hattie is asking her to do something else. Is Hattie asking Helen to save one of Helen’s last living relatives or is Hattie leading Helen to an early death? 


I thought the book was an interesting and thrilling read. The book alternates between Olive, a young girl who lives near Helen, and Helen’s point of view. I found both characters well developed and I like reading both of their stories. I felt that the story progressed very slowly in the beginning and towards the middle. There were portions of the story where nothing happened.


I enjoyed reading how Helen tries to discover the different artifacts she needs to connect with Hattie. I liked trying to figure out how the clues correlated to the different women and what the main goal of Hattie was. I felt like Helen was a relatable character. I like that she took an interest in something and followed through even though other people didn’t agree with her.


The book had an additional side story arc about Olive searching for her mother. Olive is the young girl who lives near Helen. She helps Helen search for clues about Hattie.  I liked reading how Olive went from accepting the story she has been told by others about her mother to actively trying to figure out the truth behind her disappearance. It was interesting seeing how the two story lines intertwined. The novel had a lot of strong women characters who made solid choices based on the information they had. I enjoyed seeing how Olive grew into her confidence to make the best choices for herself. I wouldn’t consider this a horror or spooky book but, if you like reading mysteries with a supernatural twist, then this book would be for you!

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