Content warnings: Infanticide, blood, some historical ableism
My Rating: 4 books out of 5
- I love a book with a niche career, salvage seems like an interesting line of work!
- Characterisation was wonderful, you really learned to love them all.
- Never trust a rich lady with a suspiciously fancy house.
- Narration was excellent!
- Nothing better than a slowly unravelling toxic family secret.
“This may be a shitty work environment, but OSHA doesn’t have any guidelines when it comes to ghosts. We’ll have to make up our own as we go.”
Haunted house + Interesting Career + Awesome Female Lead = Good Charlotte Book. As someone with a fascination with old things – houses, antiques, museum displays – I love reading about the jobs that deal with them. If I could train as anything right now it would be as a museum conservator, and I love touring old houses, taking in the history of a place and imagining what life was like inside their walls. So, it turns out, does Dahlia from Music City Salvage. Following a nasty divorce that cost her her own much beloved house, Dahlia agrees to take on the job at the Withrow house for her father – gutting it of anything worth reselling before it is destroyed, preserving as much of the grand old house as she can alongside her rag-tag salvage crew.
I loved the salvage crew. From awkward newcomer Brad to seasoned Father/Son duo Bobby and Gabe, you could realistically imagine these people existing in the world – bickering, going about their jobs, arguing about who drank the last beer or ate the last of the good snacks. The strained relationship between Dahlia and Bobby is, refreshingly, nothing to do with her being a woman and also kind of his boss, in fact they have a huge respect for each other. He just happens to have been friends with her ex-husband, and neither of them is certain where their friendship stands.
God knows a haunted house is probably not the best place for a heart to heart. And this house is HAUNTED.
This motley crew of scrappers arrive at the old house and find that Mrs Withrow didn’t exactly tell them everything about it – like the fact that there appears to be a graveyard on the land, and that something unseen and angry keeps trying to kill them in the shower.
Which – side note – honestly seems like a low blow. You’re vulnerable in that environment, naked and afraid, maybe without glasses. The ghost that tries to attack you in the bathroom is a dick. There’s just some situations that are going too far, even for the dead from the great beyond.
My favourite thing about so many haunted house stories is that journey back through the past to find out what made this place the way it is, the twisted family secrets and strained relationships that became so powerful they outlasted the family itself. Dahlia’s interest in preserving the history of such a grand old place uncovers secrets long hidden from the world and leaves her thinking that some places, some memories, are best left alone.
A fab, atmospheric slow burn of a horror novel, this is an audiobook I will likely be revisiting in the future, and I definitely want to read more of Cherie Priest’s writing!