The Clairvoyants by Karen Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Martha has had an interesting childhood and upbringing. As a young girl, she saw the ghost of her aunt, a nun, in her grandfather's barn. As a teen, the dead frequently appeared to Martha, though she rarely knew what to do with these apparitions. Also in her teen years, Martha's younger sister, Del, wound up sent to an institution. Incredibly close as children, Del's slow decent into some sort of madness haunted Martha. So she decides to depart her family's farm and move inland to college. Once in Ithaca, Martha falls in love, is reunited with Del, and frequently sees the ghost of Mary Rae, a missing woman from a neighboring town, who stands beneath Martha's window for hours, wearing her coat and with her hair covered in ice. Martha had hoped to escape the dead in Ithaca, but it seems like somehow everything is going to converge on her nonetheless.
This book was not at all what I had expected; it's less a supernatural thriller and more a literary treatise as we watch Martha deal with the events in her life. The chapters switch between present-day in Ithaca and flashbacks to Martha's life growing up. Sometimes it's a little confusing, but also quite interesting. I had expected the book to be more of a mystery as we try to figure out what happened to Mary Rae, but honestly, it's pretty apparent from the beginning who is responsible for her disappearance, even if the "how" is unknown. Still, the book is incredibly suspenseful and very compelling; I found myself trying to read it every chance as I had.
The psychological/mystical aspect isn't really as much at play here as you'd think from the summary, but that's okay. I didn't find it as creepy as some of the other reviews, but as I stated, still very spellbinding. There's an "aha moment" when you're reading and things come together that is masterfully done. While I wasn't in love with the character of Martha, I was intrigued by both she and Del, and I found all of the characters to be fascinating and intricate in their own way. The ending was a little quick for me, but somewhat redeemed by one particular portion (don't want to give away a spoiler). Overall, this was a different book--unlike ones I typically read--and while I didn't find it amazing, it was an engrossing and suspenseful novel. 3.5 stars.
View all my reviews