Barbara Michaels weaves a web of supernatural "reality" around a 1960s era Washington, DC suburban neighborhood. The web is so well woven, so gripping, that you don't want to escape. Fiction becomes reality as the presence of a malevolent evil focuses in on an innocent teenager and her aunt. Read this one with the lights on and don't be surprised if the chill creeping up your spine doesn't come from the temperature in the room. I was 14 years old the first time I "met" Barbara Michaels in a Readers Digest Condensed Book and "Ammie Come Home" was our introduction. Since that time, I haved read every book she has written, including those written under other names and have kept every one of them. I finally managed to find my own paperback copy of "Ammie Come Home" - in fact I have two- one is so dog-eared from my years of reading it sits on the book shelf like an antique porcelain doll. That one is just to look at. The other I share with my 20 year-old daughter, as I share all my books. When it comes to creating a haunting presence, there's no one like Barbara Michaels.
This neat little book was written fairly early in Barbara Michael's writing career. Though originally published in 1969, it holds its strength and value still today, telling a thrilling ghost story that is timeless.The book begins with the enchanting story of Ruth Bennet, owner of a historic old Georgetown home, inherited from an elderly aunt, and her niece. Her niece Sara, who she dearly loves, came to live with her while attending college nearby. Ruth meets one of Sara's professors who takes a liking to her and asks her out. She goes with him to a party at his wealthy mother's home where a séance is held with very little result -- the medium feels little. Ruth, out of sympathy for hostess and medium, invites them to come to her home for a dinner party. While there, they hold a séance with far more complex results. Sara is briefly possessed by a lonely spirit and the medium feels the intensity of an evil spirit. The party breaks up with the medium fleeing with fear from the party.Four characters are central to this story, Ruth, the professor friend, Sara, and her boyfriend. They all reserve some degree of skepticism regarding whether the house is actually haunted. During the story they read into past Georgetown history to find answers, all the while experiencing escalating supernatural events that they cannot explain. It finally wraps up in a stunning conclusion that'll take your breath away. If you love ghost stories and love mysteries, this book is a sure bet for you. I started reading it and stayed up way past my bedtime! Buy it, borrow it, get it, read it. You'll be glad you did!
I have read everything ever written by this wonderful writer, under both Michaels and Peters and also her non fiction Egyptology books as Barbara Mertz. Ammie has been my favorite since I first read it in the early 70's. I have reread and loaned this book so many times that I have worn out 3 copies. There are whole pages of this book that I practically know by heart.
Her characters are always intelligent, savvy, funny people who you enjoy meeting and spending time with. Her heroines are strong, independent women, and they don't do the stupid things that make so many books of this type so frustrating.
If you enjoy this one, don't miss some of her others. I particularly like Patriot's Dream, Witch, and The Walker in Shadows, also Devil May Care, which was written under the name Elizabeth Peters.
May I point out to the young person who complained that AMMIE, COME HOME was "too sixties" that the book was written in the sixties, and therefore should be read in the context of the late sixties. When my daughter and I read it we were into the seventies, and we both found the book fascinatingly spooky. When I reread it today, at the age of 67 (me, not the book) I still found it fascinatingly spooky.
I will admit that I prefer Barbara Mertz's "Elizabeth Peters" books more than I like her "Barbara Michaels" books, largely because despite extremely serious situations that arise in them, they are also screamingly funny, whereas the Barbara Michaels books are just screaming. But gothics--and this is a very original and unusual gothic--were all the rage then, and this is a good one.
But given what this book was trying to do, I feel that it was well done. Five stars, and don't bother to read it if you think everything older than three years ago is icky.
I got my copy of Ammie Come Home when my school library was discarding books, and I'm glad that they did. I feel that this book is simply wonderful. The characters natures are subtly reveled, and within a short period of time you feel as if you have known them for your whole life. The imagery is superb, as is the dialogue. This is one of my favorite books, and I have read it over twenty times, I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in history, the supernatural, romance, or just a good story.
It's been thirty years since I first read Ammie, Come Home and if it's a little dated, it's still one of the best and scariest ghost stories I've ever read. Groundbreaking at its debut, Ms. Michaels set her contemporary gothic tale in fashionable Georgetown. Her characters are nice, university and civil service types who lead nice, academic, upper middle-class lives. When confronted by incontrovertible evidence that a malevolent spirit is inhabiting Ruth Bennett's elegant home, they go out to dinner and consult libraries.
If there is such a category as a cozy Gothic, Ms. Michaels is its absolute queen. Nobody does nice people caught in a web of evil as convincingly as she does. With every plate of cookies, pot of tea and polished mahogany table, with every warm yellow circle of lamplight, she lulls the reader into a sense of safety so that when the 'coiling mass of oily smoke' appears in the drawing room, it's a shock. No hunchbacks, moldering castles or ruined abbeys for Ms. Michaels--her horrors take place in well-appointed, spotless homes, amid familiar people, and a doubly scary for it.
Her characters are appealing and flawed, and grow as they fight the supernatural. The slightly wild child Sara, uptight Ruth, flamboyant Pat and slightly effete Bruce are likeably imperfect, and the utterly chilling denoument results in a satisfying personal ending for each. Ammie, Come Home is one of my all time favorite comfort reads and never disappoints.