“The Invited” is a ghost story by Jennifer McMahon. Honestly, I read this book while waiting for another one of hers (I’ll review that when I get it eventually). It tells the story of Helen, a history teacher who convinces her husband, Nate, to leave the city and build their own house in rural Vermont. It just so happens the spot they choose to build on is where suspected witch Hattie Breckenridge was hanged in the 1920s. While building their home, they meet a cast of characters including Olive, a precocious teen who is convinced Hattie left a treasure buried on the land. Olive’s mom disappeared last year, and she and her dad need the money. With Olive and her aunt Riley’s help, Helen starts researching Hattie and the Breckenridge family, with whom she is now obsessed. Helen “happens” to find a wooden beam from Hattie’s hanging tree that she decides she must incorporate into her new home. Of course, Hattie’s spirit is connected to the beam and now Hattie starts to appear to Helen and Nate. Then Helen finds some bricks connected to Hattie’s daughter Jane’s death, and they must be used in the house too so Jane and Hattie can be together, and so on. Hence, Helen and Nate build what McMahon touts as a “haunted house.” I liked the concept of this book, but I feel like McMahon didn’t commit to it the way that she could have. To me, it “maybe” became a haunted house, but the way McMahon described it, it’s more like a gathering place for three generations of Breckenridge women to meet and catch up with one another. Helen didn’t set out to make it a haunted house, but it just kinda happened. And while Nate did put up some resistance to using these morbid building materials in their house, it was half-hearted at best. There wasn’t a sense of danger or foreboding to me, just a vague mystery about what happened to Olive’s mother. Again, good concept, but the follow-through just wasn’t there for me.
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