An exciting 1920s ghost story featuring a psychic and a war veteran who try to outsmart a killer who seems to have a real dislike for psychics, including the one hunting him!
REVIEW: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James
Category: Historical Gothic Romantic Suspense
Publisher: NAL (April 7, 2015)
Rated 5 + RR
Format: PRINT ARC read, available in eBook, Audio as well.
Ellie Winter is known as The Fantastique, finder of lost things, a psychic like her mother. When she catches a client misrepresenting why he's come to her, Ellie swears he's a journalist there to debunk her talent. Instead, he's the brother of her former best friend and psychic, Gloria Sutter, who was murdered and left behind a note to have Ellie find her. Ellie no longer talks to the dead, but she can't tell Gloria's brother no when he asks for her help.
Ellie has operated off the radar in London, living a quiet life as a finder of lost things for an income since her mother's death. She lives in her mother's home, wears her mother's dress when she meets with clients, but Ellie doesn't do séances any longer. Running into James Hawley, a war veteran who ran the tests on Ellie and her mother all those years ago to discredit them, brings up so many feelings of betrayal. The attraction she felt then is still there, but Ellie's distrust and anger at James for what he'd done hasn't gone away either. However, James won't stop dogging her and he seems sincere in his regrets for his actions with the New Society for the Furtherance of Psychical Research.
As James and Ellie investigate further into Gloria's death, the suspect list grows and so does the danger. Can they solve this murder without becoming victims themselves?
Simone St. James is one of the few authors whose books I snag as fast as possible. There isn't another author I've experienced, yet, who can bring out the atmosphere of the 1920s quite like this author. Ms. St. James so easily captures the mood and sets a scene for a ghost story with her words that it's like poetry in motion. If you have any doubt, go to the bookstore and turn to page 259 to read the second paragraph. There are many more examples but that one paragraph struck me because I was wondering at that very moment, what is it about this author's talent that fascinates me? I was answered by that beautiful, descriptive paragraph. Simone St. James' apt turn of phrase is always so very original.
Ellie Winter is an engaging heroine. She's smart and yet, has an innocence and curiosity that makes her likeable. Her life hasn't been easy since she worked alongside her mother as a child talking to the dead. When her mother gave up the séance business, it left Ellie in a position to find her own way but not completely, since this is all she knows. She also can't control when the dead contact her, even though she tries to block it. She made me laugh every time she hissed at them to "go away" like they are a petulant child.
The attraction between Ellie and James is so well honed. James has some issues as a war veteran and Ellie is one of the few people who can truly understand what he's been through. I really enjoyed Ellie and James working together and then finding their way into a relationship. James seems like the type of guy any woman would be proud of for his service to his country and his sense of right and wrong. He also has a dry wit that comes out in a few unexpected places in the book that made me chuckle. If you've read a lot of 1920s fiction or enjoy movies from this time period, then you'll be able to picture James as the brave warrior he is with a bit of the bad boy gene in the way that he moves or sulks in a doorway. I could picture him the whole way through because he is so well portrayed.
The villain in this book is unexpected. I was so surprised when I found out who he is because it's such a clever plot that I never suspected. It's so rare to be taken by complete surprise that I think most suspense lovers will appreciate this author's talent immensely.
THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT is exactly what fans of gothic romance will love. Many of us compare everything that Ms. St. James writes to her first book, THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE, as it's such an exquisite piece of gothic romantic fiction. Is this book as good? I think so, but for different reasons. I also feel that we'll never get another book like the first one because it was our first experience reading this talented author. There's no way to bring back that first experience, any more than we can outdo any other first in our lives.
The cadence of the sentence structure is perfect for building suspense in this novel. The sentences are rhythmic, creating suspense with their pace as much as the words and how the story is told. THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT exemplifies great storytelling. You will be enraptured, creeped out, fascinated and surprised—fully satisfied by the prose, the era, the nostalgia and the great characters who make you fret, laugh and cry. A Recommended Read!
More reviews of books by Simone St. James at my website: http://www.tbrmountainrange.com/
What’s on your TBR Mountain Range? What's your favorite ghost story?