Penguin Publishing Group | February 2020 | 336 pgs
Source: Purchased 

In November 1982, twenty-year-old Vivian Delaney had gone missing from The Sun Down Motel. She was working as a night clerk there. She'd always wanted to leave her town in Illinois and go to New York City to become a new person. She often viewed herself as the problem daughter; and after her parents' divorce she figured she could simply leave home but a hitching ride had landed her at The Sun Down Motel. Without much money and the need to find accommodation, she agreed to become a night clerk at Sun Down after the owner learnt about her situation. But Sun Down wasn't a popular place; and Viv was spooked by its creepy atmosphere and some paranormal activities after working there for a few nights. Despite her fear, Viv decided to find out about the secrets surrounding Sun Down and soon learned that there's something more terrifying than the ghosts there. 

Thirty-five years later, 20-year-old Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv's disappearance. Since watching her mother grieved in silence and finally losing her to cancer, it dawned on Carly that life is short and she has questions she needs to find answers to -- such as her aunt Viv's disappearance and why there wasn't much media coverage or a statewide search? With these in mind, she decides to move to Fell, NY, and visit the motel where her aunt was last seen at. Despite years have passed and things have changed, Sun Down remains as what it is since 1982. And Carly will soon find herself ensnare in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt. What lurks behind Sun Down and why Viv and Carly decided to stay despite everything? 

Creepy atmosphere, unsettling and intriguing. These are the three main factors that had me hooked to this story from the beginning till the end. Reading this book was a treat because it combines a mystery and a ghost story -- two of my favourite genres and on top of it, I adore Simone St. James' writing (she has a knack for writing Gothic stuff.) I've been a fan after reading The Broken Girls (and a few others, too) and I'm glad to report this was as good as TBG. The setting, the characterisations and the plot are all so mesmerising that I couldn't even choose a favourite (even the ghostly parts are good, though they're sad.) The same applies to Viv and Carly since I find both of their life stories and their investigative findings equally interesting through the dual timeline and narratives. While there are some parts which I find to be a bit unbelievable, it didn't deter my reading pleasure so this shows how much I enjoyed the book. As always, it's fun to buddy read with Lark and please do check out her review, too! 

Below are her questions to me pertaining to this book: 

1. Who did you like better or thought was a stronger character, Viv or Carly? Why?
I thought Viv and Carly are equally strong characters and they stand on their own. However, Viv's voice may be a bit more catching considering she's the core of this story. That said, both of them are special in their own ways and I liked them a lot.  

2. Being a night clerk at the Sun Down Motel seems like a pretty bad job to me. Would you do it? What's the worst job you've ever had?
I've to say I'm not much of a night owl so night shift jobs are absolutely out for me. I think my worst job is working as a temporary position selling drinks at a theme park (that theme park was long closed). I was waiting for my GCE O-Level results and like many of my schoolmates, I figured it'd be good to earn some allowances while passing the time at the same time. While it wasn't a bad job, the challenges lie in dealing with some difficult customers and not to mention transporting the beverage cylinders from one point to another (never mind if there's hand trolley. It's still challenging especially if there's a slope!) That said, working in servicing industry is never easy and I appreciate the staffs for their hard work. 

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12 Responses
  1. Kay Says:

    First of all, I love it when you and Lark do these buddy-reads. Such fun to hear about what you two think. I'm looking forward to reading this one and your review makes me want to even more. Gothic, ghosts, spooky - I love those books. And I'm delighted that I never had that job, Melody. Ha! In fact, all of my jobs through my life were in offices of some kind or libraries. Ha!

  2. Melody Says:

    Kay - I love the buddy reads with Lark. Always fun to compare notes during our reads. I hope you'll love this book as much as we did when you get to it, Kay.

    So far that's the job that requires labour, sort of. Thereafter, I worked in offices throughout my working life. I'd love to work in libraries, though. :)

  3. Lark Says:

    Awesome review as ever, Melody! I'm glad we got to read this one together. :)

  4. I LOVED this book so much; really hooked me early on.

  5. Melody Says:

    Lark - Thanks, Lark! I'm glad we read this too! Can't wait for our next buddy read! :D

  6. Melody Says:

    Diane - Yes, it's another of my favourite alongside with "The Broken Girls".

  7. Marg Says:

    I love the cover of this book!

  8. Melody Says:

    Marg - Me too!

  9. Iliana Says:

    I can't wait to read this one. Sounds creepy! So fun to read your buddy reviews with Lark!

  10. Melody Says:

    Iliana - It has a nice combination of mystery and supernatural stuff. I really enjoyed reading it! And all the more reading it with Lark! :)

  11. I am really looking forward to reading this one. I love the combination of mystery and supernatural. I am glad you enjoyed this one, Melody!

  12. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I think you may like this book, Wendy. Will be curious of your thoughts if you do read it.

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