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This is the story of Jonah, a young man with mental illness who moves into a house in a small town in northeast Pennsylvania. He soon becomes friends with an autistic man who lives across the street and with a woman who has MS.
Jonah quickly discovers that his new home is haunted by the previous owner, and his struggles against her malevolence are hampered by both his mental illness and the opinion of others around him that the haunting may be a symptom of this mental illness.
The story itself was okay; Jonah’s experience with the evil spirit are pretty standard within the haunted house trope, including bad smells, inanimate objects moving on their own and unexplained sounds. The final confrontation with the evil spirit is slightly unusual in form, but still adheres to standard horror trope elements.
What was more enjoyable about this book was the affectionate description of the setting-northeast Pennsylvania and the coal-mining regions. Although the author is describing an area that has suffered greatly from the misconduct of the mining companies, and the move away from coal as a source of energy, there is not a sense of depression in the description of the area. Instead, the reader learns and comes to appreciate, along with Jonah, the eccentricities, idioms, food and other elements of this area.
The history of the Molly Maguire movement that impacted the mining industry of the area is outlined in a readable yet thorough way, and plays an important role in the story itself.
And last, but not least, I really enjoyed the way the author incorporated the mental and physical disabilities of the main characters into the novel. Especially for Jonah, it was interesting to see how the hallucinations that were symptoms of his mental illness interacted with the malevolent spirit haunting his house.
I really enjoy Sharon Mccrumb’s Appalachian Ballad series, and this book reminded me a bit of those novels. According to the author’s note, this is Swope’s first novel. I hope to see further novels from him, with slightly more sophistication and less reliance on standard tropes, and have a new favorite reading series to look forward to in my future.
Modern day protagonist, Jonah Frost, a young man with a history of mental illness moves into his new home. Little things start happening in his new home which he can’t explain away. Little does he know his new home is inhabited by its former resident, hell-bent on continuing her life’s vendetta. To this reader she was one creepy woman.
Joe Swope knows how to spin a story. If you’re looking for a new author pick up this book. You won’t be disappointed. What a great read.