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Linda Hilton

Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic

Currently reading

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Halloween Bingo -- Haunted House -- Built up, Let down

House of Many Shadows - Barbara Michaels





This was almost a great story.


When I discovered last night that it was available as a free ebook from my library, I dove into it.  I couldn't wait to get back to it this morning.  I skimmed over household chores -- and skipped some altogether -- to keep reading.


And then there was this totally meh ending.


It wasn't a bad ending, like an anti-HEA or anything.  But there were too many loose threads not tied up, or details that didn't make sense.


Meg Rittenhouse is given six months to recover from the effects of a car accident that has left her with recurring hallucinations.  Her wealthy second-cousin-once-removed, Sylvia, allows Meg to move into a big Victorian mansion in rural Pennsylvania, an inheritance from Sylvia's second (of three) husband.  In return, Meg will inventory the hoard of antiques in the house and prepare it for eventual sale.


On hand to assist Meg is Sylvia's stepson, Andy Brenner, whose father was that second (of three) husband.  But the house and its acreage actually came from Andy's mother, so there's a bunch of resentment on all sides.


And both Andy and Meg start seeing things.  So then they have to figure out what they're seeing, and why, and what happened.  All the usual things that go on in a book about a haunted house.


The explanation proved to be sort of nonsensical.


But there were still so many other things that didn't get explained at all. 



Did Andy in fact have a nervous breakdown?  What kind of treatment was he getting?  If it was guilt over the suicide of this girlfriend/ex-girlfriend, how was he going to deal with that in the future?


Why did Meg's accident-induced hallucinations suddenly disappear as soon as she got to Pennsylvania?


How did the piano get to the attic, for crying out loud?


What was the deal with Sylvia's health?  Had she willed the property back to Andy, since by rights it should have been his anyway?


At one point, Mrs. Adams from the Historical Association mentions that the site the house was built on sat empty for a century.  But no one seems to wonder what happened to the original house on the property?  How did the relics from the 1740s or thereabouts make their way into the attic of a house that wasn't built until a century or so later?


Why was Andy so secretive about the novel he wrote?


What happened to the silver tea set Meg had that Sylvia coveted?


(show spoiler)


I didn't find the attraction between Meg and Andy to be based on anything believable.  It didn't develop logically.  It was just . . . there.


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  The background story to the haunting was interesting, but it, too, seemed cut short, as if Michaels was on a deadline and just decided to wrap it all up any old way.  In that sense, it was worse than all the little glitches in Ammie, Come Home.  Definitely not among her better works!