The Invited

The Invited

by Jennifer McMahon

Overview:In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home - wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks — she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie's descendants, three generations of "Breckenridge women," each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day

Deanna Boe (08/10/19): This is a ghost story and mystery all tied into one. Nate and Helen are middle school teachers and after Helen inherited money they decided it was time to pursue their dream of life in the country, away from suburbia. After much researching of various places in the northeast they settled on forty-four acres in a rural area that appeared to offer all that they had been dreaming about their entire married life. It had beautiful trees, a bog, and just the right spot to build the Saltbox home they had always visualized. It was a home they would build entirely by themselves.

It didn’t take long for strange things to start happening. They are befriended by a neighbor’s young daughter, Olive, who soon fills them in on the story of their property, including how the previous owner’s wife had died in the bog. But more importantly she tells them how a woman, by the name of Hattie, was hung years ago on a large tree of their property because she was believed to be a witch. Olive also introduces them to her aunt, Riley, who fast becomes Helen’s friend and encourages her to believe in the witches/ghosts that supposedly live on their property.

We soon have many questions. Why was the lady hung, and is she an actual ghost now? Did Olive’s mother really run away with a man never to return? Why does Olive’s father keep tearing their house apart, is he actually making it better in hopes his wife does return or is he looking for something? What exactly is the role of Olive’s aunt in Helen’s life? What role does the ancient and rundown hotel play in all of this and the man who lives there. The ending is a surprise.
Rating: ****

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