The Invited

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

So I’ve read several  Jennifer McMahon stories and she has a formula she follows. One half of the novel will take place in present time, and the other half will take place in the past-the two intertwining.

This one takes place with a couple building a house on “haunted” land in 2015 and then tracing the genealogy of the family who owned it, us jumping through time from 1924, 1943, 1980, and then 2014-2015.

The story starts off with Hattie Breckinridge. Hattie has a problem, she can see the future and know things she shouldn’t know. She has tried to hide it and tried to help others by using it; but still is a pariah and labeled a witch.

Her family used to be wealthy and powerful in the community but they lost their house when it was burned down by townsfolk, her grandma dying.

She inherited a lot of money when her father died but remained in the woods with her daughter, Jane.

She warned the town something bad would happen at the school that day, and told them to keep their children home but no one listened and it burned down, killing three kids. Hattie hid her daughter Jane, and tried to calm the townsfolk down but they murdered her and hung her in a tree. Her money is buried somewhere on the property and she is rumored to haunt and walk the bog and woods for all eternity.

91 years later history teacher Helen and science teacher Nate Wetherell have decided to build their own house. It all started when Helen’s father, a former renovator/builder passed away. Helen grieved and also felt so lost as what to do next with her life. She decides she wants a historical house in the country and she and Nate started looking.

They searched and searched but none of the houses were right or they cost too much to fix. Nate then decides that they should buy land and build the house themselves. Helen is at first resistant as she wanted something with history, but then they see the Breckinridge land and she changes her mind.

Both are told it is haunted, but ignore it as they don’t believe in ghosts but that will soon change as weird things start happening. They find red strings tied on branches in an area of the bog, a gift of an animal tooth and nail is left at their trailer door, all kinds of things disappear, and they hear strange noises at night and see something…or at least Helen thinks she saw something as Nate doesn’t believe her.

One day there is a circle and when they go out they find a ghost…but it turns out to just be a 14 year old girl, Olive “Ollie” Kissner. Olive grew up in the town with her mother and father hearing the stories of the hidden treasure. She has been searching for it, tying strings to remember where she searched, and stole items and money to try and get the people to leave so she could keep looking. Her mother disappeared last year, everyone says she ran off with a man, and Olive has been searching for the treasure hoping it will bring her mom back or enable her to hire a private investigator to find her.

Treasure?

They feel bad for the girl and decide not to call the police but have her help with the house as she knows a lot about building from her father. She also introduces them to her aunt Riley, who knows a lot of local history and owns a salvage yard.

However, it turns out Olive hasn’t been doing all the spooking. She never left the tooth, she has’t been making the strange noises at night.

Hmm…

Then Helen sees Hattie, espechially after she buys the wooden beam that was in the tree that hung Hattie. She and Riley play with an Ouija board and get a message from Hattie to head to the old mill, Donovan and Sons.

When Helen gets out there she hears about a horrible fire that was there. The mill boss used to lock the women in and when the fire started they couldn’t leave-all burning up.

Helen sees some bricks they were going to toss and takes them home. She puts them in the house and at night she sees Hattie and her daughter Jane. She knows Jane was in the mill and she and Riley do some research and discover that a Jane Whitcomb worked there, formally Jane Smith. After comparing some pictures she is a dead ringer for Hattie.

Jane was bullied all through school and one day it got to be too much for her and she burned it down. After her mother didn’t come get her from her hiding place in root cellar she sneaked out and witnessed her murdered. She then ran away and was taken in by a family. She married and had two children, working at the mill. One day the supervisor tells her he going to make budget cuts by firing people and offers her a job, and then attacks her. Jane is furious and decides to set fire to the mill, not knowing that the doors are barred and they cannot get out.

Further research reveals Jane’s family and that her daughter, Ann Gray, was married and killed in murder-suicide. From there she heads out to the old farmhouse, but it was taken down. She heads to an antique barn and finds a mantel she is drawn to, which turns out to be the mantel Ann Gray was shot in front of.

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Hattie takes it home, but when Nate finds out he is furious. He thinks it is strange and ghoulish how Helen is collecting all these dead relics. However, Helen will not stop as she knows she needs to find Hattie’s descendent and save her.

Meanwhile, Olive has been wondering about her mother’s running off and being asking questions. She thinks the rumors surrounding her mother are not true, and starts thinking something took her away, but who? Was it it her father? She heard them fight the night before she was gone. Or was it the secret society her mother was involved in? She never liked the idea of joining clubs, may they wouldn’t let her leave? Or could it be about the missing treasure?

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought the mystery was good, but at the same time the author is starting to get predictable. You know it will involve some supernatural elements, travel back and forth in time, center on women, and in the end someone you thought cared about the main character is really the killer.

This was well paced, but I knew right away as soon as the characters were introduced who it was. It wasn’t bad, but I’m hoping the next one she writes has something new or different.

I did think Helen’s taking of dead relics was extremely creepy. I mean I like the macabre and history, but seriously? It is really weird.

For more by Jennifer McMahon, go to The Night Sister

For more supernatural mysteries, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

For more treasure hunts, go to High Sea Adventure

For more Not in a Series Mysteries, go to Pretend You Don’t See Her

The October Game

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“The October Game” from Long After Midnight by Ray Bradbury

*Contains Spoliers*

Thoughts Before Reading:

Long After Midnight is a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury. While most of his work is science fiction, every now and then he writes something we can post on this blog. Originally I was just going to post something tomorrow, but thought hey what the heck! Why not post on Halloween? Espechially as I have one creepy and spooky story for you all.

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Mich wants his wife dead.

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But he doesn’t want to shoot her, it is not the right way to do it. She must be in agony, it must take time.

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It is Halloween night, Mich’s least favorite time of the year.

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That night they are having a Halloween party and his wife, Louisa is getting everything ready from treats to games.

She flits around from room to room always leaving the room that Mich enters. Mich thinks of it as a game, following and asking for things but all the while thinking about killing her.

She finally locks herself in the bathroom and Mich cannot follow.

His daughter Marion approaches him, dressed as a skeleton. To further his anger, Louise had never wanted a child, but became pregnant with a girl. A girl that looked nothing like Mich and only like Louise, growning up following in her ways. And afterwards she could have no more. No child that looks like Mich. No son.

It's not fair.

It’s not fair.

Divorce wouldn’t hurt her,she would be free to marry someone else. No the only thing to really hurt her would be to get rid of Marion!

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That’s it Mich has decided to take her child away from her.

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By 10 the party is winding down. Apples bobbed, the donkey’s tail pinned, the bottle spun, musical chairs completed, etc.

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Mich is in the center of it all, playing along with the kids all the parents commenting on him.

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It was then time to go down to the cellar for the Haunted House.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

Mich has the room pitch black. The witch is dead he says. She has been killed and here is the knife that she was killed with. And passes it around.

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He says the witch is dead and this is her head passing it on.

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One of the kids calls out that they know what this is all about.

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Chicken skin is used for skin, clay mold for the head, grapes for eyes, noodles for innards, etc. They tell him to shush and continue listening.

Mich then says, the witch came to harm  and this is her arm, passing it around. The witch is cut apart this is her heart.

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And on it goes with each item being passed from person to person.

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Some of the kids freak out and call to their parents, with them calming him. Louise calls to Marion, don’t be afraid it is all okay. But Marion doesn’t say anything.

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She’s calls out to her, but still no answer.

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Mich tells her to calm down that all is fine. But Louise continues to call out for her and everyone looking.

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One parent says to turn on the lights, and a boy goes upstairs to look.  Louise cries out while the items stop being passed along the room.

And then someone turns on the light.

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Thoughts After Reading:

So in case you didn’t get it, he killed her. He killed his daughter.

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And passed around her body parts.

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I know, what a psychopath.

It is a creepy story, well-written, and incredibly sad.

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For more mystery reviews, check out The Murder at the Vicarage

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Whatever you do, I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween.

Fangs But No Fangs

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Fangs But No Fangs by Sholly Fisch

Fangs But No Fangs is a graphic novel and a collection of “minute mysteries”, short mysteries that are, typically, easily solvable.

Read it today!

Read it today!

Mystery #1: The gang is threatened by a vampire, Count Hemoglobin, in a Haunted House. Fred doesn’t believe he is actually one. How does he know?

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Mystery #2Shaggy is attacked by a skunk and Velma shares the story of Aniwye, a giant skunk that hunts people.

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Mystery #3At a museum one of the portrait’s ghost comes out scaring everyone. When people come back to the museum they discover the painting is stolen. Daphne thinks it is the owner of the museum who stole it, how does she know?

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Mystery 4: Fred is competing in a mini-gold tournament but is distracted by a recent theft of pearls. Meanwhile a werewolf or golf-wolf is attacking the park trying to shut down the tournament. The mystery gang is on the case.

from janeaustenrunsmyife.wordpress.com

from janeaustenrunsmyife.wordpress.com

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was a cute children’s book with easily solvable, fun mysteries.

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Good choice for any kid you know who is a mystery or Scooby-Doo fan.

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For more young adult books, go to The Princess Plot

For more on vampires, go to Grave Peril

For more werewolves, go to Fool Moon

For more mysteries, go to Bloom and Doom

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