Book in a Minute: I Remember You

I Remember YouI Remember You by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Disappointing! I was sold by the fact that the super-talented Simone St. James, a worthy successor to Daphne Du Maurier, wrote a rave review of this book. And many others have also loved it and found it super-scary. But for me it was utterly meh.

Three frenemies in dire financial straits have bought an old house on a remote island with plans to turn it into a bed & breakfast for outdoorsy, nature-loving tourists. They decide to go to the island in the depths of winter to do their renovations so they can start raking in the cash from tourists as soon as the weather breaks. Yeah, nothing wrong with that idea as anyone who reads suspense can tell you. Of course things start going creepily wrong right off the bat. There’s the charter boat captain who drops them off and warns them they’ll be totally alone on the island and he may not be able to get back to rescue them right away if the weather turns. There’s the word GOOD-BYE spelled out in seashells on the floor of the cottage. There’s that other person they keep glimpsing from a distance but can never meet. At least, maybe it’s a person…

If it were just a tightly written short story or novella about this trio and their adventures, I think I’d have been all in on this story and loved it. But there’s a parallel story about a doctor whose son has been missing for three years. I found that plot excruciatingly slow-moving and hard to believe. (view spoiler)

Lastly, there was the translation. At least, I hope it was a bad translation. Because the language was so clunky and reportorial, not at all visual and evocative, which to me is what a ghost story needs.

I listed this in my “Did not finish” shelf because I pretty much skimmed my way through the last ten chapters. I did my best in honor of Ms. St. James, but next time she recommends a read, I think I’ll just re-read one of her own books instead!

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Book In a Minute: Starter House by Sonja Condit

Starter HouseStarter House by Sonja Condit

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love a classic ghost story. Not the blood and guts, over-the-top, don’t-go-in-the-basement variety (although those can be good too). What I enjoy most is a story that quietly builds a sense of dread and impending doom–and Starter House by Sonja Condit delivers.

Lacey is pregnant with her first child and dreams of finding the perfect starter home. A realtor tries to warn her away from the house on Forrester Lane, but she needs the sale, so she doesn’t try too hard. Once Lacey and husband Eric move into the house, Lacey sinks into a bit of a depression. Having moved to a new town and given up her teaching job to prepare for the baby’s arrival, she has way too much time on her hands. The only thing that livens up her days is her rowdy visitor, a little boy named Drew. It doesn’t take Lacey or the reader long to realize that Drew is not from the neighborhood. Or at least, he’s not from the present-day neighborhood. As Drew demands more and more of Lacey’s time and attention, she begins to see that he wants her to join him in his new neighborhood–in the afterlife.

Lacey starts out trying to fit into her own image of what a “real mother” should be. She wants to be docile and conventional and a happy homemaker, unlike her own flakey vagabond of a mom (who is a magnificent secondary character in this story). But gradually, Lacey sees the value in her mother’s eccentricities and it helps her gain strength and courage to fight a very unconventional and terrifying battle for her home, her husband and her sanity.

A very promising first book, and I look forward to seeing more from this author!

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