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


Title: The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Pages: 336 pages
Publish date: February 18th 2020 by Berkley
Source: Edelweiss

GoodReads Description: "The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn't right at the Sun Down, and before long she's determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden… "

"This place is dark."
"Some of us like the dark. It's what we know."

If I’m honest, when it comes to ghost stories, I’m in a nearly exclusive relationship with Stephen King. I step out on him from time to time and it usually leaves me feeling dirty and cheated. However, this book has shown me that maybe the horror genre does have a female player! I haven’t read Simone St. James’ other books (I know, I know) so this was her debut for me and she definitely delivers. The Sun Down Motel read like a movie – but better – obviously since books are always better.

From the Goodreads description: "The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before..." Carly goes looking for her aunt who has been missing for 35 years after her mother dies. Her aunt disappeared from the Sun Down Motel, so naturally Carly goes there and finds a great many clues and... surprises.

Some things I loved about this book:
* I loved this book and all of its Stephen King references! Each one thrilled me.
* I loved the atmosphere and the dual genres of crime mystery and ghost story.
* The thing that really makes me love a particular book is when they capture an emotion just perfectly. This book captured a very real fear that I think every woman has experienced in her life.

“I’m not a cop. I just spent some time in the library, looking up dead girls. I think there are a lot of them in Fell.”
“You think there are a lot of them in Fell.” Marnie repeated the words back. “You think? I’ve lived here all my life. Every woman was afraid when Betty Graham died. Every single one. We locked our doors and didn’t go out at night. Our mothers called us ten times a day. Even my mother, and Betty was white. Because we were all Betty. For a few weeks, at least. You know?”

Viv swallowed and nodded. “We’re all still Betty,” she said. “At least I am.”

This was a kind of theme in this book and I appreciated how well she captured an emotion that I could relate to. That as women, we have so many more threats that we live with, that we are warned about from the time we are young, that people consciously or unconsciously sometimes blame us for. I remember I was about 10 years old I watched America's Most Wanted at a friends house (my mother would never have let me watch this - she wouldn't even let me watch the last half of Oliver or The King and I) and I walked around in terror that I would be attacked for years just because I was a girl.

"She knew what the eleven o’clock news would say: There was a killer on the loose. People should lock their doors. Women should look over their shoulders, try not to be alone at night. Parents should look out for their daughters and always know where they are. Women should carry a whistle or a flashlight. Because if you were a woman, the world was a dangerous place."

All in all, I loved this book, I couldn't put it down, and I added all of Simone St. James' books to my TBR list!

Thank you to Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for my honest review!