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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Ammie, Come Home

Ammie, Come Home - Barbara Michaels

Where to start?


I've been hearing my mom rave about how much she loved this book for ever, which in the way of such things between mothers and daughter sometimes, had the perverse effect of making me disinclined to read it.  This is spite of my enjoyment of ghost stories and Barbara Michaels' other work.  (N.B. I love my mom, just stupid vestiges of teenage stubbornness I suppose.)


In the lead-up to the 2016 Halloween Book Bingo, Person of Interest suggested a buddy read.  I'll admit to trepidation though; my mom always talked about how scary this book was, and I've known her to read the Amityville Horror without flinching.  But nothing like a spot of good natured peer pressure to push a girl through!


When I first cracked it open I got up to chapter 3 and nothing much had happened; a bad dream, a bit of foreshadowing.  This was somehow worse; I knew it was going to get creepy, it was going to happen any page now... But all the (necessary) setup made it easy to put the book down until the next day.


I was right; everything starts hitting the fan soon into chapter 4 - and that's where the trouble started for me, because this is a buddy read, and I should be pacing myself, reading small sections to savour and discuss with friends, and I can't put the book down, I have to find out what happens next!!  Hot tea was brewed in vain, only to go cold and neglected; by chapter 6 I was firmly of two minds about this book - it was creeptastically gripping and unbelievably condescending and dated in its tone.  


As others have noted, Patrick was ...unlikeable.  Add to this his behaviour in at least one scene and way too much vagueness pertaining to Ruth's past and I was... unimpressed with our protagonists.  Bruce was mostly a pompous git, and Sara was rather vanilla.   So while I as still enjoying the story it could go either way for me at this point.  I pried myself off the book at the end of chapter 7 and swore I'd not go near it again for at least 24 hours.


I think I made it the 24 hours and I'd like to say I was able to only read a bit more the next day, but that would be crap - I grudgingly went through my to-do list and then sat down with this book and wild horses were not going to part me from it until I finished.  I had to know how it ended.


Oh, Barbara Michaels, you crafty, crafty lady.  I see what you did there.  You never did explain Ruth's past clearly, but you did explain Patrick's behaviour ever so neatly; I didn't have much justification beyond his name for disliking him after that.  I especially liked how you sneaked a bit of sophisticated theology in too when you thought nobody would notice.  Clever, and it added a tiny bit of heft to the story without beating the reader over the head.  Nice.


There's no way anyone who has ever read any ghost story couldn't divine at least some of the ending, but I'll admit my sub-conscious predictions fell short: it was more complex than I had foreseen, which of course made it all the better.  As to what finally felled the evil, well, that showed a complexity of theological belief that I don't see much in my spooky reads and I respect Michaels all the more because of it.


All in all an excellent ghost story and one I wouldn't want to read - or re-read - after dark; I'm fairly certain it would scare the bejeezus out of me.  


I jest, but the worst part of the book is probably the part where I have to call mom and say:  you were right!  ;-)


I'm using this book for my Genre: Horror square in Halloween Book Bingo