Book Review: The Invited by Jennifer McMahon
The Invited by Jennifer McMahon is a ghost story that holds much potential to classic tales of haunted houses written for a modern audience searching for an abandonment of current genre trends in favor of escapism through late-night reading sessions. McMahon successfully twists in horror attributes without falling into cliché tropes of the boogeyman of the house. In the book, Helen and Nate have recently moved to a large expanse of land encroached by a bog said to contain the ghost and treasure of a witch named Hattie who was hanged by the people of the town. Living in an abandoned mobile home located near where they plan to establish their homestead, the couple becomes wrapped in the lore of the ghost tales of the land.
The novel is not without its faults as the tale seems all-to-familiar with the usual family lineage investigation of a horror story, but McMahon freshens it up with separate ghostly encounters for each character personalizing the experience through the first-person narrative shift of the chapters. Just when readers feel tired of the plot, the narrative experiences shift and take a new direction in the reading experience.
The ghost of Hattie feels like it naturally fits the storyline without feeling contrived. However, the tale shifts dramatically when McMahon prepares the reader for the plot twist near the end. I found myself reading the chapters near the 60% mark quickly glossing over pages of exposition and having to re-read for specific details that tied the plot together. The narration struggled at times to keep the storyline rolling, but the pace kept the reader moving without hesitation. In the end, the jagged-edged story rounded nicely even if some subplot was predictable.
I did not have a favorite character in this book, yet I related to each character at some point in the text feeling their desire for understanding. I liked the DIY nature of the story and the way the author pulled in current trends with antiquities to reestablish the old into new. It felt true to our current culture and showed that McMahon was well-versed in practical character motivation.
The Invited was creepy and kept me up at night reading to the end of the chapter, and sometimes, afraid of the dark. It was good and familiar keeping the style of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black with some elements of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House thrown into the plot. I recommend it to readers who need a change, but it may be too predictable be for the avid horror fan.
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐3/4