The Sun Down Motel (2020)
The Sun Down Motel – The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.
Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Vivian Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…
“The Sun Down Motel” is a story that is narrated by two separate people with two separate timelines. We’re taken back and forth between 1982 and the present day, or rather, 2017. The two narrators are Vivian and her niece Carly, who are so mysteriously similar to each other. Both women are smart and extremely brave, loners and risk-takers. It’s very easy to assume that Carly could be the daughter of Viv, as their views to the events, their instincts, as well as their actions are so similar.
In 1982, young Viv left her home to become the next big thing in New York, the newest shining star. Except, she never made it to the Big Apple at all. Instead, she found herself in Fell, New York, a very small town on the map. Having nearly no money, Viv takes the first and the only job she finds, tending the front desk as the night shift clerk at a place called the Sun Down Motel, a place lost in time. Definitely not her idea of a Broadway dream.
While working her evening shifts, Vivian begins to notice some unexplainable occurrences at this rundown motel. Before long she starts to notice things that aren’t quite right and wonder if the motel is haunted. She soon begins receiving some very strange phone calls, random motel room doors seem to open and close by themselves, and there’s a constant smell of stale cigarette smoke even though no one is around.
Making things even more creepy are the bizarre customers who come for a stay. At the same time, young women in Fell are being brutally murdered. Suddenly, small-town Fell doesn’t seem to be a very safe place for a woman to be, especially alone. Soon enough she discovers it’s not just her and the bizarre customers that frequent the motel, but there are also occupants that awaken during the dark hours of the night.
Intrigued, Vivian begins to investigate the Motel’s history. Playing investigator, she learns that a number of young women have been murdered in Fell over the last several years, and she becomes obsessed with solving the murders. But then one day, Viv isn’t there anymore, she disappears without anyone even noticing that she’s missing for four whole days. Very little is done to find her or anyone who knew about her disappearance, or to the murderers of the other women.
Fast forward thirty-five years later, to 2017 where the Sun Down Motel is still standing but is in need of a Night Clerk. Carly, Vivian’s 20-year-old niece shows up in Fell searching for answers concerning her aunt disappearance. After her mother’s sudden death from cancer, Carly is determined to find out exactly what happened to her aunt. She ends up taking Vivian’s old job at the motel where she soon begins to notice some really strange happenings there. As she investigates her aunt’s disappearance, she suddenly finds herself in extreme danger.
It is here where we get to read alternating timelines as Carly takes a very similar path to Vivian as she investigates the long-ago murders and also the very creepy happenings at the motel. Happenings that cause her to question her sanity and leaves her more determined than ever in figuring what really happened and why her aunt’s disappearance took four days to notice. Is Carly going crazy or are these things truly happening? And what will it mean if they are real? Will she be able to solve the mystery of her aunt’s disappearance? Or, will she meet the same fate as her aunt Vivian?
I feel that one of the things that make “The Sun Down Motel” most appealing is the incredibly eerie atmosphere. The author truly made this upstate New York setting a character of its own. To me, that was the most disturbing, and amazing thing by how she was able to do this. I absolutely loved the plot. I loved the two timelines, and the many different twists and turns, all totally surprised me. I was so intrigued by this novel and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next.
There was only one thing that I had trouble with, well, at first, and that was that I found it to be a challenge to keep the two different timelines straight. Carly’s investigation mirrored Viv’s so closely that at times I thought I was reading the same page over again. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and all the characters, even the ghosts.
This book is an engrossing, chilling, dark and amazing gothic thriller that you will be immediately drawn to. I became completely immersed in the tale and devoured every aspect of the supernatural. The Sun Down Motel was entertaining, creepy, and I found myself being unable to put it down! It has everything included, murder, mystery, mayhem, and unhappy vengeful spirits, it’s a perfect read and I highly recommend it! It’s available on February 18th, 2020.
About the Book Author
Simone St. James is the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare, which won two prestigious RITA® awards from Romance Writers of America and an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada. She writes gothic historical ghost stories set in 1920s England, books that are known for their mystery, gripping suspense, and romance. Simone wrote her first ghost story, about a haunted library, when she was in high school. She worked behind the scenes in the television business for twenty years before leaving to write full-time. She lives just outside Toronto, Canada with her husband and a spoiled cat.
Title: The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Published Date: February 18, 2020
Genre: Horror, Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: Penguin Group
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Reviewed by: Sarah Hopkins
Our Rating: 4.0 /5
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