The Haunting of Maddy Clare

The Haunting of Maddy Clare

Book - 2012
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"In 1920s England, a young woman of limited means and even less experience confronts the ghost of a mysterious serving maid.... Sarah Piper's lonely threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis--rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed by ghosts--has been summoned to investigate the spirit of the nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is said to haunt the barn where she committed suicide. Maddy hated men in life, and she will not speak to them in death. But Sarah is unprepared to go alone into a haunted barn looking for the truth. She's even less prepared for the arrival of Alistair's associate, rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, also a veteran of the trenches, whose scars go deeper than Sarah can reach. Soon, Sarah is caught up in a desperate struggle. For Maddy's ghost is no hoax--she's real, she's angry, and she has powers that defy all reason. Can Sarah and Matthew discover who Maddy was, where she came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance...before she destroys them all?"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : New American Library, c2012
ISBN: 9780451235688
0451235681
Branch Call Number: FICTION ST.JAME SIMONE
Characteristics: 330 p. ; 21 cm

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skyekilaen
Sep 29, 2018

More of a paranormal mystery than a romance, but the substantial romance arc hit all the right buttons for me. And it won a RITA Award by Romance Writers of America for "Best First Book & Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements," so I'm clearly not the only romance fan who sees it as an honorary member of the genre.

Set in 1920s England in a period still deeply scarred by the first World War, it begins when Sarah Piper is hired by wealthy ghosthunter Alistair Gellis. He wants to document a haunting, but the female spirit in question, Maddy Clare, hates men. (Content warning: sexual assault in the ghost's backstory, brought up multiple times during the book.) Sarah has no friends or family, and she's been drifting through life temping as a secretary. She's frightened by his tales of ghosts, but also intrigued by the prospect of doing something different to break out of her haze. She's also a teensy bit attracted to bright, warm Alistair. When Alistair's usual assistant Matthew Ryder arrives unexpectedly on the job, though, Sarah realizes that whatever she feels for Alistair is just a fleeting crush. Matthew is the one who makes both her heart and her body sit up and take notice.

Unfortunately for Sarah, Matthew's still suffering from both physical and mental scars of his time at war, so he's decided to be emotionally unavailable. Also rather unfortunately, a terrifying, powerful ghost may kill them all very shortly if they can't figure out her secrets and help her get revenge. Um, I mean justice. It's a compassionate look at trauma in so many different forms: Maddy's rage and suicide (and them more rage) in response to her assault, Alistair and Matthew each having different experiences with PTSD, and Sarah's loss of her parents and (I suspect) resulting depression. Sarah, Alistair, and Matthew are all cut off from other people in significant ways because of their pasts, and have to struggle to find their way back.

Sarah was a delight to read because being underestimated is such a spark for her to become more confident and even feisty. I loved her growth, the he-won't-admit-it romance between her and Matthew, the creepy-as-hell haunting, the mystery, the reflections on the war. It all combines into a fast-moving story that kept me up until midnight... but then I saved the last chapter for the next day because I didn't want it to be over just yet. And that chapter was good too. :)

b
becker
Oct 07, 2016

This was a bit different than what I was expecting. I thought I was getting a ghost story with a bit of a mystery attached. And parts of the book were exactly that. But there was a romantic element to this book that was completely unsuitable to the story. There were 3 or 4 steamy, detailed and poorly written sex scenes that were so out of context in the story that they were a bit jolting. In one paragraph you are in a haunted barn hearing voices and the next paragraph you are in the bedroom. The sex didn't seem to fit into the story at all and was totally out of character for the protagonist. Not too much to admire here.

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TALEI WESTGAARD
Feb 20, 2016

This book makes for an enjoyable ghost story with some truly sinister moments. Without delving into too much detail, I felt that some characters were complex (or had the potential to be), while others fell short. As a result, the love affair that ignited between the main character and her love interest felt somewhat forced, fast, and melodramatic -- producing (in my opinion) a few drawn out and erotic sex scenes that detracted from the main story, rather than compliment a believable romance or chain of events. I appreciated St. James' attempt to offer her readers a mixture of suspense, romance, and nostalgia -- the overall combination just wasn't as convincing as it could have been. All in all, the mystery kept me intrigued, despite being able to guess the truth and the eventual outcome of Maddy's ghost fairly early on. If you're looking for an easy to read historical mystery/romance, then it's worth giving this a shot.

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gusmcrae
Nov 20, 2015

"The Haunting of Maddy Clare" started out as a promising tale of terror--a woman working for a temp agency in post-WWI London is hired by a ghost hunter to serve as his assistant for a job that requires a woman because the ghost in question, abhors men. Author Simone St. James has a writing style that pulled me in quickly. I knew after the first couple chapters that I would probably want to read more of her books. With that said, the book ended up not being terribly scary. It was more of a mystery with a ghost attached to it. Ultimately, the character development was not as rich as it could have been, which took away from this atmospheric novel. And, in my opinion, there was far too much romance between the under-developed characters. I certainly don't mind a dusting of romance in my reading, but this was much more than I cared for (and I found it kind of annoying given how underdeveloped the characters were that they were so quick to fall in love with each other).

Will I still give more of St. James' books a chance? I currently have one more checked out that I will get to soon. She is a good "light" read if you something Downton Abbey-esque. But if you're looking for something terrifying, you may want to look elsewhere.

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flicka94
Apr 03, 2015

Good book! Enjoyed the story and the characters. Author has you jumping in there with the story. Good setting, solid writing. The only thing that keeps it from 5 is that I felt a few times that characters jumped ahead with their emotions - maybe needed a twinge more development. Will read this author again!

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lpreston214
Jan 23, 2015

I had never heard of this author until her latest book popped up on a booklist somewhere. I liked it and so went back and read her earlier books. All three are of a type. Gothic with ghosts and romance. This one was ghostier than the other two with the main characters being 1920s ghostbusters. I wouldn't call it scary, spine-tingling or chilling, just fun. As with her other two St James gives us a winning heroine.

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genepy
Jul 08, 2014

A very entertaining read and a page turner but unfortunately very predictable the minute the villain is introduced in the story.

c
cmb8
Jun 04, 2014

wasn't sure about ghost story but the book kept me interested
enjoyed the book

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GingerKaren
Jul 28, 2013

Sarah Piper accepts a job as a temporary secretary to a very fascinating young man who claims to be a ghost hunter. However when they arrive at the supposedly haunted house, it is Sarah who proves to be a medium for a very angry spirit called Maddy Clare. When another young man, Matthew, joins their search for truth, Sarah finds she must fight against a vengeful ghost and her attraction to Matthew. This gothic love story is a wonderful supernatural tale of suspense that reminds me of Velda Johnston or Norah Lofts.

j
jac523
Mar 08, 2013

This was a fantastic read. The post-war period was a great setting for a ghost story and mirrored the lost feeling that people had after the war. What I liked most about this one is how the author balanced the mysterious ghost story with the character's relationships. Who doesn't like a little bit of romance when solving a mystery?

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TALEI WESTGAARD
Feb 20, 2016

TALEI WESTGAARD thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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SecretUnicorn
Sep 18, 2013

SecretUnicorn thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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