Tuesday, February 11, 2020

ARC Review: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Publication: Berkley (February 18, 2020)

Description: Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

My Thoughts: This dual timeline story is filled with ghosts, terror, and mystery.

In 1982 Viv Delaney leaves home after one more argument with her mother. Her stated goal is to go to New York to become an actress. However, she get sidetracked in Fell, New York, where she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel never knowing what horror she will soon be involved with.

In 2017, Carly Kirk goes looking for her Aunt Viv who disappeared in 1982 without a trace from Fell, New York. Viv has always been the mystery her mother didn't want to talk about. Now, after her mother's death from cancer, Carly quits the college course she wasn't enjoying anyway and travels to Fell to see if she can discover what happened all those years ago.

Back in 1982, Viv soon discovers that the motel is haunted by a woman whose body was left at the site when it was a construction site, a boy who hit his head in the pool and died a couple of days later, and by the former night clerk who died of a heart attack. Viv also learns that the woman who was found on the site wasn't the only woman to die in town. It appears there is a serial killer who is targeting Fell.

As Viv investigates she comes to believe that she has discovered who the killer is. When she takes her findings to Officer Alma Trent, who is the only woman on the force and relegated to a permanent position on the night shift, Trent doesn't quite believe her. So Viv keeps investigating and soon meets Marnie who is a freelance photographer hired to take pictures of a couple meeting frequently at the motel for illicit  purpose.

Meanwhile in 2017, Carly takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel which doesn't seem to have changed one bit since her aunt had the same job. She begins her investigation by reading old newspaper articles in the library archives and gains information from her new roommate who had a strong interest in the various crimes that were part of Fell's history. She meets Callum in the archives who has his own interest in Fell's past and Nick Harkness who is staying at the motel and is linked to a much more recent crime in Fell.

As Carly and her roommate try to track down those who were part of Viv's past - Alma and Marnie - they soon learn that both seem to be keeping secrets and being less that forthright about their roles in the past events. And all the while, Carly is meeting the same ghosts who haunted Viv.

The story had a very eerie vibe in the beginning but switched to more of a mystery in the last half of the book. It was very descriptive and very creepy. I liked the story and thought it was well told. However, I decided that I could only read it in the daytime and I crossed motel night clerk off my list of potential jobs.

Fans of creepy thrillers with vengeful ghosts will definitely enjoy this mystery.

Favorite Quote:
Viv had heard ghost stories. Everyone has. But she had never thought she'd be standing holding a chain-link fence, trying not to vomit in fear as her knuckles went white and something other crossed behind her back. It was crazy. It was the kind of story you told years later while your listeners rolled their eyes, because they had no idea how the terror felt on the back of your neck.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.


  1. I want to read this but I feel like I would never stay in a hotel again! It sounds so good though. Lol.


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