*I received this book free of charge from the Penguin First to Read program.* I went into The Ghost Notebooks expecting a slightly spooky paranormal romance story. It turned out so different from what I expected, and I’m still thinking about it days later…
A supernatural story of love, ghosts, and madness as a young couple, newly engaged, become caretakers of a historic museum.
When Nick Beron and Hannah Rampe decide to move from New York City to the tiny upstate town of Hibernia, they aren’t exactly running away, 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 swiftly move into their new home. The town’s remoteness, the speed with which Hannah is offered the job, and the lack of museum visitors barely a blip in their consideration.
At first, life in this old, creaky house feels cozy—they speak in Masterpiece Theater accents and 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. In his frantic search for her, Nick will discover the hidden legacy of Wright House: a man driven wild with grief, and a spirit aching for home.
I don’t think the description provided for this book really does the story justice. I went into this expecting a spooky, romantic story, and was very, very surprised. Yes, The Ghost Notebooks is a ghost story, but not at all in the traditional sense. But the uniqueness of this story really works. It draws you in and keeps you guessing until the very end. Rather than being your typical, creepy, spooky ghost story, Nick and Hannah’s story is tragic.
When Nick and Hannah move to upstate New York to become the caretakers of a historic house, they have no idea what’s in store for them. The first portion of the book actually ends up being an interesting exploration of young, troubled love, and it’s fascinating to see the inner-workings of Nick and Hannah’s relationship through Nick’s eyes. The move, at first, seems like a great thing for the couple, but when Hannah wakes up in the night claiming that she hears whispers, things start to go awry.
Hannah has dealt with mental health issues in the past, so Nick is worried, but not overly worried. He believe she’s still in contact with her psychiatrist, and that she’s doing everything she should be to manage her health. But when Hannah disappears, it calls into question everything Nick believed (or chose to believe) about her state of mind. Mental illness and sanity/insanity are major themes, especially in Part Three of this book.
I don’t know what else I can say about The Ghost Notebooks without giving away major plot points. This story is beautifully written and haunting. There are twists and turns and the nature of the plot keeps you guessing at what’s actually going on until the very end. This is not your typical horror novel, but it has it’s spooky and creepy moments. I definitely recommend this unique book.