“In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house – a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.”
“The Invited” is a compelling story involving the supernatural, ghosts, witchcraft, murder, mayhem and tragedy. It revolves around a couple who are both middle-school teachers; Helen teaches history while her husband Nate is a science teacher. Both love their work but have grown tired of the daily grind and the hustle and bustle of city life. Helen wants a new life and has always dreamed of having her own home on her own land, a place where she can grow a garden, raise some chickens and other farm animals, somewhere far away from other people and constant noise.
After Helen’s father passes away, she receives a large inheritance. Letting this be the deciding factor she has always looked for to start a new life, she and Nate begin making plans to leave both jobs and move away to their dream home. Helen decides she would love for them to build their home from scratch, by themselves on a piece of land somewhere. Looking over all their options, they end up buying 44 acres of property surrounded by woods deep within a tiny village in Hartsboro, Vermont, with its own bog, no less. Even when the realtor tells them the land is alleged to be haunted, the elderly man is very motivated to sell and makes them an unbelievable offer they cannot refuse.
However, this is not where the story begins. The story begins with a grisly scene in 1924, nearly 100 years ago, with a little girl named Hattie Breckenridge played with her doll that she called Miss Fentwig. Hattie claimed that the doll told her many things, mostly of things she did not want to hear. A grown Hattie tells the town that the school was going to burn down and children would die, but she could not tell them how. Little did they know that Hattie was able to see visions of the future but was helpless to stop them. Later Hattie is working in her yard when her young daughter, Jane, comes running up to her crying and confessed that she had burned down the one-room schoolhouse and 3 of her classmates had died. The parents of the dead children found Hattie and hanged her from a tree because they thought she was the one that had started the fire. Jane ran into and remained hidden inside a root cellar during this horrific event. Later that night her body was taken down from the tree and discarded in the bog, located on the same land where she made her home. There was also a legend that Hattie inherited her wealthy family’s money and had hidden it near her home. Yet, it had never been found. Flash forward almost 100 years to where Helen and Nate sit on that very land.
I enjoyed this book and the plot very much and thought it was well thought out and cohesive, it was wonderfully realistic, even though we were dealing with ghosts. I also liked the loving relationship between Helen and Nate at the beginning of the book, and how it began to deteriorate over time as Helen began to get deeply obsessed with Hattie Breckenridge and trying to discover the history that leads to her demise. It’s all the things she went through and learned as they built their new home with their bare hands, and the new little neighbor girl named Olive and their relationship that covers most of the book. We also learn that Olive has recently lost her mother but is told by the townspeople that she had run off with another man, leaving her father devastated and alone.
The Invited drew me in and held onto me, it had me mesmerized from the first to the last page, and it sucked me in deeper and deeper with each successive chapter into this grim history of that small New England town. There’s so much more here than just a spooky story, you’re allowed to witness how a single moment in time can change everything, even future generations. It made an impression on me that lasted for some time because really, this could have been anyone that we know. I enjoyed the way the author was able to weave a modern ghost story and together with historical fiction, and manage to do it so seamlessly. The characters are very well developed and you can relate to them and even care for them. The overall dark and dreadful atmosphere were amazing, and that bog was eerie as hell. The entire setting was positively eerie, and it made everything seem even creepier! Finally, I adored that plot twist. I won’t give it away but I assure you, I did not see that coming at all. You will want to read this book if only for that last mind-boggling twist. I’m positive you will find this book totally amazing as you meet Helen and the grim family tree she unravels.
About the Book Author
Jennifer was born in 1968 and grew up in her grandmother’s house in suburban Connecticut, where she was convinced a ghost named Virgil lived in the attic. She wrote her first short story in third grade. She graduated with a BA from Goddard College in 1991 and then studied poetry for a year in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. A poem turned into a story, which turned into a novel, and she decided to take some time to think about whether she wanted to write poetry or fiction. After bouncing around the country, she wound up back in Vermont, living in a cabin with no electricity, running water, or phone with her partner, Drea, while they built their own house. Over the years, she has been a house painter, farm worker, paste-up artist, Easter Bunny, pizza delivery person, homeless shelter staff member, and counselor for adults and kids with mental illness. She left her last real job in 2000 to work on writing full time. In 2004, she gave birth to their daughter, Zella. These days, they’re living in an old Victorian in Montpelier, Vermont. Some neighbors think it looks like the Addams family house, which brings her immense pleasure.
Title: The Invited
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Published Date: April 30, 2019
Genre: Horror, Ghost Story, Suspense
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Paperback
Pages: 347 pages
Reviewed by: Grim Magazine
Our Rating: 3.8 /5
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