Housewarming Presence: The Invited

The Invited Novel

Hello all, again! I'm here to chat about a new Jennifer McMahon book, The Invited.

I've loved all the books I've read by her. She's never coy about ghosts. She leans hard into "ghosts are real and messing shit up." The Invited does not stray from this. Right from the get go she has a witch hanging and you just know this will not end there. That witch is coming back.

In 2015, Helen and Nate are teachers who decide to leave their jobs and live the rural life in the back woods of Vermont. After a brief house hunting excursion, they decide to build the house of their dreams instead.

Helen, a history teacher, wants land with a story. She finds it in a 40 plus acre swamp once owned by Hattie Breckenridge, a woman hanged for witchcraft by an angry mob in the early 1900s. Nate and Helen get to work right away building their home while living in a run down trailer on the property. Constructing a house under these circumstances is trying enough but they feel added strain. The locals don't approve of strangers moving onto the Breckenridge land, someone has been creeping around the trailer at night, and Helen is feeling an unease she can't explain.

As a distraction from the realities of building a house from scratch, Helen throws herself into learning as much as she can about Hattie. She learns of the tragic life of this misunderstood woman and feels a kinship to her. This feeling grows to near obsessive proportions. Helen finds objects with grim histories to build into their new home, which ultimately help create a new haunted house.

This synopsis is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much going on in The Invited. There is Nate's own obsession with a ghostly deer, a neighbour girl whose mom has disappeared, and a possible buried treasure. The narration switches between two of the main characters, while also slipping back into the past to the tragic histories of the Breckenridge women. It's never boring.

If you are already a fan of McMahon, you won't be disappointed. If she's a new-to-you author, I think The Invited will be a fun surprise.

About the Audio: The narrator is Amanda Carlin. I wasn't a huge fan of the narration, especially at first, though I did get used to it. She would emphasize the last word in each sentence and it was distracting. If that will bother you too much, get the written version instead.

I received this book for review from Random House Audio via Volumes. All opinions are my own.