Khanh the Killjoy

The Haunting of Maddy Clare

The Haunting of Maddy Clare - Simone St. James An excellent ghost story with some truly terrifying moments. This is Simone St. James' first book, and I actually read her second book first before going back to this one. They are not connected, although they have a similar setting and sets of characters. Their similarity in no way detracted from my enjoyment of both books.It is 1922, and 24-year old Sarah Piper leads a lonely, very threadbare existence. It is hinted that there was a traumatic event in her past, and as such, she seems to be going through the motions day by day, getting temporary jobs from her agency where she can find it, and barely making ends meet. She does feel a little sorry for herself but she does not get bogged down by her circumstance. Sarah gets a call at the beginning of the book from her agency, from a gentleman seeking an assistant. Said gentleman specifically asked for a woman, and initially, Sarah balks, thinking of experiences past of lecherous old men looking for very young, attractive girls of whom they can take advantage. Sarah is concerned about getting into that same situation, though she not does consider herself the type to be propositioned.The gentleman in question is different from whom she had expected. Alistair is young, wealthy, and debonair, though clearly suffering from a scarred past from serving in the war. He specifically asks for a female because he is a ghost investigator, and the ghost he intends to investigate has a reputation for hating men. The family who hires him specifically asked that he bring a female assistant. Though dubious, Sarah accepts, because rent is two weeks past due.The story very much picks up from there. The mystery of the ghost is terrifying and compelling. One feels the fear that Sarah goes through, and the strength of her character as she grows from a soft, scared, and thinking of herself as weak-willed, into a strong character capable of holding her own in the middle of a confusing and complex investigation with a malevolent ghost clearly out for blood. The ghost herself is a scary and unpredictable, but a very sympathetic character, especially once the reader learns of her past. It is easy, then, to understand her hatred and anger, and why she is haunting and wreaking havoc in this manner.Again, as in her other mystery, I found the love interest to be rather unlikeable. Matthew is a prickly, touchy, standoffish character, albeit so because of his experiences in the war. I feel that "the war" has been used as such a crutch in these books, though. Oh, the man is an asshole who sleeps with women and discards them? It's not his fault. It's the war!!!!! That excuse only goes so far. There are plenty of ways to depict suffering and post-traumatic stress disorder without making a character into a massive douchebag.