“Lost Among the Living” By Simone St. James

Concept: ★★★★★ – The concept of this book was well thought out and very unique. “Lost Among the Living” is set in 1921, a few years following the first World War. The author artfully twines a novel that expertly addresses issues that were active in Europe, while spinning a tale of a not-quite-widow and the challenges she faces after her husband disappears in the war. Weave in a ghost, a family full of secrets, and a house with footsteps that follow people down an empty hallway; then you have yourself a novel!

Writing: ★★★★★ – As always, I was very much a fan 6a015390e082b4970b01b8d1b6f7a6970c-600wiof St. James writing. The language and rhetoric style she chooses to use in her historical novels is delectable. Perhaps my favorite part of reading her novels is imagining the amount of research she may have had to complete to accurately write a story from a different decade. Another amazing attribute that she possesses is her capability to write a fiction novel around challenges that were very real and present in the post-Great War era.

Character Development: ★★★★☆ – As always, St. James has a way of gradually introducing characters throughout the entire novel. I feel as though this is what sucks me so deeply into her stories, the fact that I get to know characters at their deepest levels as I read. The only character that I found to be less developed in this novel was the villain. I felt as though it made his role obvious, but perhaps that’s just me.

Plot: ★★★★★ – A not-quite-widowed woman, a recovering addict, a lonely woman, and a mysteriously dead little girl, all woven together into a novel that develops slowly into a page-turning novel. With so much activity, it was hard to keep up at times! The author expertly stitched together a breathtaking and nightmare giving read!

Pacing: ★★★★☆ – The greatest downfall to this book was when the main character said, “Things moved quickly after that.” Even though the book was attention grasping and full of endless twists, I really was frustrated that St. James couldn’t come up with a less obvious transition to the climax and end of the story.

Ending: ★★★★★ – The ending was, well, short and sweet – and, boy, do I mean sweet! The bad guy was proven guilty and the good guys lived on, happier than before. The only one who didn’t get the happy ending is the little girl who was long ago passed. Of course, if you want to know who the bad guy is, I suggest reading the book or checking out the spoilers below!

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Spoilers below!

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“The Haunting of Maddy Clare” by Simone St. James

Concept: ★★★★★ – Post World War I in England, a single and parentless woman, two war veterans, a terrible marriage, and one haunted bar – all twisted into one engrossing, twisted, and haunting novel. The concept behind the 2012 novel, “The Haunting of Maddy Clare” by Simone St. James, is not only unique but also well encompassed. Highlighting the events of the timeframe, the author wove a tale that not only snagged my attention but metaphorically tugged me into an era that is too frequently forgotten.

Writing: ★★★★★ – Sometimes, when I read a book, I get so soaked in the words stroke the pages that I forget about my own milieu. These books are a gift, in the way that they have a way to divide your ordinary issues from your train of thought. The Haunting of Maddy Clare was so thoroughly descriptive of its scenes and happenings that a reader could imagine exactly what the – equally as meticulously described – characters are experiencing. Beyond that, the manner in which the story is told – where the narrator seems to be reflecting on a past event – presents a sensation that the reader is reviewing an account of a story from long ago.

Character Development: ★★★★★ – I think that the author Image of a book and coffee cup.developed her characters in a manner that not only allowed the reader to feel as though they were getting to know a recent acquaintance, while forcing them to face life events that ultimately transform the individual they were – the character who is introduced near the beginning of the book – into the person they become. Additionally, St. James cleverly tells just enough about each secondary character to allow the plot to thicken, saving all the important details for the end.

Plot: ★★★★★ – A girl who was tortured in life, left for dead, and saved from those who harmed her comes back – after her suicide – with an agenda. Three wounded souls from the era between the great wars come together to save her from her past and save themselves from her vengeance. Throw in two love stories and a tight-knit small town, you’ve got yourself a killer plot. Bravo, Simone St. James!

Pacing: ★★★★★ – Personally, I favor books that have the ability to hold the readers. If a book is so enthralling that I can read it in two days – or less – then I know that it’s a book I love. The sense of urgency and mystery that the author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare infuses in each chapter almost forces the reader to read just one more page or chapter.

Ending: ★★★★☆ – Although St. James took care to ensure each question in the reader’s mind was answered, I knew who the bad guys were about two-thirds of the way through the book. Although I wasn’t sure how the events of the ending would precisely play out, I had a good feeling who the ghost would take care of and who would be left behind. Of course, only part of me hoped for the love stories that blossomed.

Cover Art: ★★★☆☆ – The sad, yet completely honest truth, is that if I hadn’t read Simone St. James’s newer novel The Broken Girlsread my review here – I would have never bothered to grab this book at the library. The cover is a bland, semi-artistic image of the Clare’s home with the main character standing in the field. It does not include the haunted barn or any mischievous natured images, in general. Although I know the author has no control over which cover is used, I must say that the book took a hit because it wasn’t eye-catching.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Spoilers below!

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