Recommended Age: 18+
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Tags: Ghosts, Murder mystery, Paranormal
- Mature language: Swearing, including multiple F bombs, as well as verbal threats and manipulation.
- Moderate violence: Descriptions of death, physical threats, and childhood trauma.
- Mild sexuality: Brief kissing, partial nudity, allusions to sex.
Maggie has grown up living in the shadow of her father’s legacy: a book detailing the true story of their haunted house. Maggie was too young to remember any of it, which doesn’t inspire her to actually believe her parents were being entirely honest. As an adult, Maggie flips and sells houses for a living. When her dad dies and leaves her the famously haunted house, she moves back into her childhood bedroom determined to put the past behind her and sell this house. But soon she’s haunted by both uncovered memories and hauntings straight out of her father’s book. As she encounters inexplicable occurrences, she starts to question whether her parents were telling the truth after all and what secrets this spooky house is hiding.
Haunted houses are a classic cornerstone of the mystery genre, and it’s so fun to see this concept in a modern setting. I love spooky old houses with eclectic histories, and Baneberry Hall does not disappoint. I could honestly see it as the perfect house for a bunch of old ladies moving in together after their husbands all die, who boss their grandchildren into fixing everything that breaks and spread rumors around town about them being a coven of witches.
But that would be a whole different story.
As it is, the fact that Maggie’s family is young and struggling is a key part of why they stay in the house as long as they do, as well as why her dad justifies writing a book about their experience. The house is a character in of itself, offering a rich backstory lathered in love gone wrong and untimely deaths. When the main character lives in a giant house like this by herself, it helps that the house has something of a personality to offer. Even when Maggie is home by herself (allegedly), it still feels like there are interactions between her and the house and she tries to unravel this mystery once and for all.
Maggie is a strong protagonist and pushes at sensitive information, trying to unlock her missing memories until she finally discovers the truth of what happened in this house. She’s always known her parents were liars but even on his deathbed, her father won’t admit why he built his career on a book that Maggie cannot believe is true. But living in her old house and experiencing it all over again, there are too many similarities to dismiss. It’s really interesting to see Maggie basically relive her childhood, but one she only knows about by reading her dad’s book. Her missing memory elevates this mystery and pushes the stakes higher, creating an unreliable narrator and helping the reader fill in the gaps and discover the story without being fed information.
Overall, a thoroughly satisfying spooky tale, perfect for late nights and story seasons. There’s a light sprinkle of romance, though it’s more implied than anything else. This is mostly a dark maze of history and secrets, showing how people would do anything for family.
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