The author of the enormously successful Boneshaker returns to Tor with her unique take on the classic haunted house book
Chuck Dutton built Music City Salvage with patience and expertise, stripping historic properties and reselling their bones. Inventory is running low, so he's thrilled when Augusta Withrow appears in his office offering salvage rights to her entire property. This could be a gold mine, so he assigns his daughter Dahlia to personally oversee the project.
The crew finds a handful of surprises right away. Firstly, the place is in unexpectedly good shape. And then there's the cemetery, about thirty fallen and overgrown graves dating to the early 1900s, Augusta insists that the cemetery is just a fake, a Halloween prank, so the city gives the go-ahead, the bulldozer revs up, and it turns up human remains. Augusta says she doesn't know whose body it is or how many others might be present and refuses to answer any more questions. Then she stops answering the phone.
But Dahlia's concerns about the corpse and Augusta's disappearance are overshadowed when she begins to realize that she and her crew are not alone, and they're not welcome at the Withrow estate. They have no idea how much danger they're in, but they're starting to get an idea. On the crew's third night in the house, a storm shuts down the only road to the property. The power goes out. Cell signals are iffy. There's nowhere to go and no one Dahlia can call for help, even if anyone would believe that she and her crew are being stalked by a murderous phantom. Something at the Withrow mansion is angry and lost, and this is its last chance to raise hell before the house is gone forever. And it seems to be seeking permanent company.
The Family Plot is a haunted house story for the ages-atmospheric, scary, and strange, with a modern gothic sensibility to keep it fresh and interesting-from Cherie Priest, a modern master of supernatural fiction.
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Tor Books
Three and a half stars: A creepy good ghost story with a terrific, atmospheric setting.
Chuck Dutton worries that the offer before him is too good to be true. Yet he knows that if he doesn't accept this gift, his salvage business will likely go under. So when the glamorous and enigmatic Augusta Withrow offers him the chance to gut and salvage whatever he can out her family's stately early 20th Century mansion, he jumps at the chance. Chuck decides to send his daughter, his nephew and his son, and another trusted employee to do the salvage work. When the crew gets there, they quickly get more than the bargained for. The old house has plenty of secrets as well as ghosts. Will the crew be able to stay long enough to complete the salvage of the old house or will they run in terror?
What I Liked:
- As we head into the Fall season, I love to grab creepy, ghostly books dripping with suspense and atmospheric tension. Ms. Priest delivers a hauntingly good tale with a fantastic backdrop with this book. I loved the creepy old mansion, and I was fascinated by the salvage work. If you want a haunted house story for the Fall season, this is a great one to pick up.
- For me, what made this story shine was the Withrow mansion. I considered the house to be one of the main characters with all of its secrets, antique furnishings and mystery. I enjoyed learning about the salvage process and all of the items of value that the crew pulled out. Not to mention, the house provided the most excellent backdrop to the story. Loved it.
- I liked the suspense. From the beginning, the reader gets the unsettling feeling that something is amiss when Augusta Withrow makes her appearance. From there, things grow more and more creepy as the crew enters the house and begins to have unsettling experiences. With each and every chapter, the suspense thickens before it explodes with a thrilling climax and a creeptastic ending. I wouldn't recommend reading this one alone in a dark house before bedtime.
- The ending was a jaw dropper. After the dust settled, all the major story lines are tied up, and it appears the book is going to end with a nice, neat ending, and then it doesn't. I am not sure what to make of that ending. It certainly grabbed my attention.
And The Not So Much:
- I can't quite put my finger on it but I felt like there was just a bit of something missing to put this book over the top. I liked it well enough, and it was a page turner, but when I got to the big climax, I was a bit disappointed with the pay out. I think I was expecting something a bit more terrifying as far as the secrets. I wanted to know more about Abigail and her motivations, and I also wanted a better understanding of Buddy and Hazel.
- Augusta Withrow with all of her mystery and glamour was fascinating, and I wished that more of her story was uncovered as well. What did she know about the house? What were her personal experiences?
- The whole thing with the camera was a fizzle. I was hoping for a big shocker moment.
The Family Plot was a thrilling, creepy, ghost story perfect for the Fall season. I loved the haunted house setting and the story. This book was a page turner. I just wished there had been a bit more on the backstory and the history of the family and the house. Still it was a good, solid read that I would recommend for anyone who wants a scary book.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.