Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Non-Horrific Horror Book - The Ghost Notebooks

TITLE: The Ghost Notebooks
AUTHOR: Ben Dolnick
PUBLISHER: Pantheon Books
PUBLISHING DATE: February 13, 2018

FROM GOODREADS: A supernatural story of love, ghosts, and madness as a young couple, newly engaged, become live-in caretakers of a historic museum. 

When Nick Beron and Hannah Rampe decide to move to the tiny upstate town of Hibernia, New York, they aren't running away, exactly, but they need a change. Their careers have flatlined, the city is exhausting, and they've reached a relationship stalemate. Hannah takes a job as live-in director of the Wright Historic House, a museum dedicated to an obscure nineteenth century philosopher, and she and Nick move into their new home--the town's remoteness, the speed with which she is offered the job, and the lack of museum visitors barely a blip in their considerations. At first life in this old, creaky house feels cozy--they speak in Masterpiece Theater accents, they take bottles of wine to the swimming hole. But as summer turns to fall Hannah begins to have trouble sleeping and she hears whispers in the night. One morning Nick wakes up to find Hannah gone. Now, in his frantic search for her he will discover the hidden legacy of Wright House: a man driven wild with grief, and a spirit aching for home.

MY THOUGHTS: This is one of those reviews I'm having trouble writing. Partly because there isn't a lot of action in the book and the reason I actually liked it probably had more to do with the atmosphere in it and not the actual action. First I have to say I think the cover does this book a huge disservice. Had I not investigated more, I would have had no idea it was a horror read. Then again, nothing about it was really horrific so I think advertising it as horror is a disservice to readers. See, I'm all over the place already.

"The Ghost Notebooks" tells the story of Nick and Hannah. They reside in New York but when Hanna gets laid off, she seeks a job as a museum curator/director of the Wright House - a local tourist attraction in Hibernia, New York. Since it is in a very remote location they actually live on the property as well and although Nick is hesitant at first, he knows Hannah needs a change and this move might just be what he needs to reignite his music career.

Once Nick and Hannah arrive, strange occurrences begin to happen. Plus, Hannah sort of goes off the deep in but Nick accounts this to past mental issues and the fact that he learned she is off her medication. Then something happens that turns his world upside down and sends Nick down the rabbit hole of madness.

I picked this book up on a whim as it was not my planned next read. It is quite slow at times, but that didn't really bother me because it coincided with the story and also, being a relatively short book, it didn't feel dragged out. I didn't really feel an intense connection with either Nick or Hannah, but did care enough about them to what to know what happens to them. I also remained curious about the Wright House and the secrets it held. The book is divided into three parts and to be honest, although the ending wrapped things up nicely, it felt like a let-down and probably contributed more the the 3/5 rating than anything else. The first and second parts definitely rated higher. 

If you like slower paced atmospheric reads, and you enjoyed "haunted" tales, then you might be interested in "The Ghost Notebooks." However, don't go into this expecting a lot of horror, or you will probably be most disappointed. 

I received this book from the Penguin First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

RATING: 3 PAWS

21 comments:

  1. Yeah that cover is pretty poor. I'd look at that and think contemporary or something. This is why I like your reviews Barb, you always inform what to expect so a reader knows what is and isn't in the book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Chuckles. It does have a contemporary vibe doesn't it.

      Delete
  2. Doesn't sound like the best book EVER but if I would just read the synopsis I'd probably pick it up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It wasn't bad, just kind of in the middle.

      Delete
  3. Oooh! This sounds fun! But yikes... yeah, that cover is awful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So many great covers out there - I can't believe they settled with this one.

      Delete
  4. It's hard to imagine this was a First Read book cause that cover looks horrible! I am glad you enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yea, usually they have much better covers!

      Delete
  5. I wouldn't even give it a second glance with that cover, I seriously thought this was self published until you mentioned it was First to Read. Just goes to show you how important first impressions are when designing the cover.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love atmospheric novels, but it sounds like this one would be too slow for me. And I think it does need a better cover. Let’s face it the covers do matter! At least in my opinion. 😀😀 Great Review though!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is quite slow and I would recommend you skip it.

      Delete
  7. I think I'll pass on this one. I'm too behind at the moment and playing catch up and this one just doesn't really tempt me at the moment. Sorry it didn't work out a bit better for you though.
    Lynn :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yea, if I had read more reviews, I probably would have skipped it as well.

      Delete
  8. Thanks for sharing. The cover sure doesn't do much for the book and it sounds more like a mystery than horror.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yea, there's not much horror to it.

      Delete
  9. That is so weird that they chose that cover for this book. Weird. But The atmosphere sounds like it could be a good read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a weird cover and I don't know exactly what they were trying to convey.

      Delete
  10. This sounds like one you have to really be in a certain mood to completely enjoy. I'm usually too impatient for slower reads but every now and again I can enjoy one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An impatient reader would probably go crazy with this one.

      Delete
  11. I was kind of on the fence about adding this one to my TBR. I appreciate your input, it definitely helps me adjust my expectations of this one (I assumed differently based on the summary) but I might still check this one out just for giggles. Great review. :)

    ReplyDelete