Saturday, July 25, 2015

Twisty, Spooky New McMahon Novel Gives Me All the Chills (and Thrills) [With a Giveaway!]

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Everyone can use a good chill in the middle of a sweltering summer day, right?  Well, Jennifer McMahon delivers just that with her newest thriller, The Night Sister (available August 4, 2015).  While all of the author's novels (at least the five I've read) will send shivers down your spine, her latest and greatest is probably my favorite of the lot.  Thus, I'm thrilled to not only review the book, but also to offer you the chance to win a brand-spankin' new, hardcover copy of The Night Sister from Doubleday for your very own!  Read all the way to the end of this post (no skipping the review!) for information on how to win. 

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Dear Mr. Hitchcock, 

Do you believe in monsters?

Sincerely yours, Miss Sylvia A. Slater
The Tower Motel

Sixty years ago, The Tower Motel drew travelers from all over the nation to teensy London, Vermont.  Its attractions included the 30-foot tower which gave the lodging house its name, the "World Famous London Chicken Circus," Lucy the State Cow, and 28 comfortable guest rooms. Although Young Rose Slater always loved hearing stories about faraway places from the people who checked into her family's motel, she couldn't think of anywhere she'd rather be than living in the shadow of the tower her father built as a gift for her English mother.  Her older sister, on the other hand, couldn't wait to leave.  Obsessed with the movies, beautiful 11-year-old Sylvia planned to head for Hollywood just as soon as she could. 

When plans for a new highway threatened the future of the motel, the sisters started to feel their safe world unravel.  Sylvia began acting strangely, which frightened Rose, whose sharpened senses told her something sinister and otherworldly was slithering through the motel's increasingly empty hallways ...

By 1989, the once-grand motel had fallen into disrepair.  Abandoned and neglected for many years, it made a spine-tingling playground for Amy Slater (Rose's daughter), her friend Piper and Piper's little sister, Margot.  Intrepid Amy was especially fascinated by the crumbling tower, from which she'd been told repeatedly to stay away.  Since Amy never listened to anyone, all three of the girls were there to make a startling discovery—a mysterious suitcase which held chilling letters hinting at shocking secrets in the Slater Family's past.  The find changed everything between the girls, whose friendship dissolved that fateful summer.

Twenty-four years later, Piper and Margot are shocked when Amy, now 36, decides, apparently out of the blue, to butcher her husband and children.  The bloody crime makes little sense, but the only clue Amy left behind—an old photograph with the words "29 rooms" scrawled on it—is an obvious reference to the old Tower Motel.  Although they haven't spoken to Amy in years, Piper and Margot know the message is meant for them.  They also know they must revisit the odd happenings of Summer 1989 to figure out what made Amy snap.  The more they dig into Slater Family's past, though, the more alarmed they become, for the answers that await them there are so much more terrifying than they ever could have imagined ... 

So, you know how the scariest stories aren't freaky so much because of whatever monster lurks in their depths, but because the author creates such a shivery atmosphere that you're totally creeped out before the ghost/zombie/bloodthirsty serial killer is ever revealed—if it even exists?  A skillful storyteller uses eerie settings, ominous foreshadowing and the power of sinister suggestion to carefully set the stage, scene by scene, so that you're hiding under the covers from the get-go, not just when the hero/heroine finally comes face-to-face with whatever kind of ghoul is threatening them.  Yeah.  That's what McMahon does.  To exquisite, horrifying perfection.  The Night Sister is no exception—it's a can't-put-it-down psychological thriller of a spook novel, so engrossing that I literally could not stop reading it.  Its meticulous craftsmanship guaranteed that I never knew quite what/who to suspect and when I thought I knew, I didn't know.  To call this book twisty is a vast understatement.  If you can't tell, I loved The Night Sister.  It made me gasp, it made me shiver, it made me want to sleep with the lights on.  Yes, it is that good.

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of other novels by Jennifer McMahon, especially The Winter People)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder invectives), violence, blood/gore, and sensuality/sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Night Sister from the generous folks at Doubleday.  Thank you!

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Now for the fun part.  Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for your chance to win a hardcover copy of The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon.  Contest ends on Saturday, August 8th and is open only to readers with U.S./Canadian mailing addresses.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

13 comments:

  1. I have a few of McMahon's books lurking unread on my shelves already, but this one sounds particularly good. Onto my wish list it goes!

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    1. Some of hers are too disturbing for my delicate sensibilities. This one and THE WINTER PEOPLE are less so. Probably why they're my two faves :)

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  2. I'm so excited about reading this one. I loved The Winter People and really like Jennifer McMahon's style of writing. I know just what you mean about being uneasy, under the covers, a bit scared way before the actual 'jump out at you' scene. That's what music does in a movie such as this. There should be mood music with books as well. Right?

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    1. Totally! Creepy music definitely contributes to a spooky atmosphere.

      I really liked THE WINTER PEOPLE as well. I like this one a little better, but they're both really good.

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  3. Thanks for this giveaway. A Scary book which I try to forget was The Ruins. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  4. I've read one of hers and this looks like a good one to follow up with. I might save it for October!

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  5. Tana French writes some of the scariest for me. Maybe some James Patterson ones about crazy serial killers. Also loved haos Walking series and The Shadow of the Wind. Also, More Than You Know, by Beth Gutcheon, is an excellent ghost story!

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  6. Yep I'll definitely be reading this one! Even the blurb creeped me out. It sounds great!

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  7. After reading the synopsis and your review - I MUST READ THIS BOOK!!! Entering the contest now!

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  8. This is def being added to my book wish list! I love love creep books :)

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  9. I haven't read any scary books lately, but I did read some R.L. Stine books back when I was a teen. Can't remember which one was the scariest. I'll have to try this one out, even though I'm a big scaredy cat lol

    Nicole @ Boundless Bookaholic

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  10. i recently read snowblind by christopher golden and that book made me never want snow again! (and snow is my FAVORITE part of the winter holidays!)

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  11. I love a story that makes me a little scared to turn out the lights. This is definitely one I will try. I've never read her before and it looks like I've been missing out!

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