Pub. Date: February 18, 2020
Source: ARC + finished copy via publisher (Thank you, Berkley!)
Summary: Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.
Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal, Horror
By now, Simone St. James is an auto-read author. Though I still have several to go, I have a good portion of her backlist under my belt and 2018’s The Broken Girls remains a book I enthusiastically recommend. When I heard she had a new novel coming out after a long, long two years, I immediately marked it as To Read – though I had absolutely NO idea what the book was even about. She’s just that great.
Bouncing between New York in 1982 and 2017, The Sun Down Motel follows two young women: Viv, 20, with dreams of becoming an actress; and her niece Carly, obsessed with the story of her aunt’s disappearance three decades ago. Broke and with nowhere else to go, Viv found herself in Fell, a barely-there town that had once had grand visions of becoming a tourist hot spot after an amusement park was announced. The park never amounted to anything, but by then the Sun Down had already been built, its rooms anticipating the flood of families that never arrived.
Viv was hired on as the night clerk, covering the desk and phone from 11pm until 7am and right from the start she knew something wasn’t right about the Sun Down. It was more than the salesman with the creepy smile. No, it wasn’t just the motel room doors that was open as one – even when they had been lock. It wasn’t just the smell of cigarette smoke that would permeate the office, moving about in the wake of some long-gone smoker. It wasn’t even the pool, empty and fenced off.
With the recent death of her mother, Carly is left with just her older brother. Having grown up knowing her aunt had suddenly vanished – but never hearing the full story because her mother refused to discuss it – Carly had become obsessed, searching and looking for anything that might lead her to truths of what happened. Her search leads her to a tiny town off the highway and a seemingly quiet job as the night clerk at a motel.
Simone St. James has outdone herself with this one. I’m calling it now: The Sun Down Motel will ABSOLUTELY appear again on my Top Reads of 2020 list! This is a book I could truly go on and on about – but I don’t want to spoil a single second! In my review of The Broken Girls I mentioned that I’m a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to things that go bump in the night. I will only read horror – or books that have even the tiniest whisper of horror – in broad daylight and stop well before dark, whether I’ve finished the book or not. When I was reading The Broken Girls, Matt was out of town. And by out of town, I meant in a totally different state. But I couldn’t stop reading. While Matt might not have been travelling this time around, The Sun Down Motel had me once again reading a book full of literal ghosts well into the night.
An odd string of disappearances has Viv playing amateur detective, a hobby that ultimately brings about her own disappearance. What Carly uncovers is a bunch of shoddy police reports, a person who wasn’t even reported missing for four days, and minimal time and effort spent searching before wiping their hands clean of things. As the book progresses, plots and details come together and – gah, it’s so hard not to talk about THIS or THAT!
The death of a little boy, a woman who still wanders the site where she died, a photographer-for-hire, a young woman desperately seeking answers about her missing aunt, and that missing aunt – so many voices came together to tell this magnificent tale. The pages flipped by all too quickly and, try as I might, I couldn’t slow myself down. I needed to know what the next page held, what the next chapter would bring. Readings new to St. James have come to the party at SUCH a good time and long-time fans are in for such a treat. This is a writer at the top of her game and I’m already sobbing at the thought of having to wait a year – or longer! – for her next book.
ONE lucky winner will receive a copy of The Sun Down Motel!
US only, sorry!
The giveaway will end Friday, February 28.
To enter, head over to instagram!