The Sun Down Motel is a fantastically creepy and thrilling novel from Simone St. James. The novel follows two storylines concurrently bouncing back and forth between the years 1982 and 2017, culminating in a white-knuckle climax that is satisfying, engaging, and sneaks quite comfortably into Stephen King territory.
In November 1982 Vivian arrived in Fell, New York on her way to the big city. But she finds herself stuck in the small town as she becomes embroiled in a mystery around a series of murdered women as she works the night shift at the Sun Down Motel, which has a couple of guests that aren’t on the register.
In 2017 in Fell, New York, Carly arrives obsessed with a mystery that has haunted her family. Her aunt, Viv, disappeared from the Sun Down Motel in November 1982. Carly is determined to discover what happened at the hotel on that fateful night. She moves into the same apartment her aunt had, takes the same night shift at the motel, and meets some of the horrifying guests that are still there.
The book quite easily slips into embracing its supernatural side, delivering spectral haunts in a matter-of-fact and terrifying way, and that makes everything that much more creepy. The ghosts that haunt the Sun Down are connected to the murders, and possibly Viv, but neither Carly or Vivian, in their respective eras, are ready for where the clues lead them.
St. James writes in an engaging, easily read style that takes you in, and then pulls the ground out from under your feet when something unexpected happens.
There are a couple of twists throughout the book, one I knew that was coming and a couple that caught me slightly unawares, but knowing one of them was coming didn’t lessen the enjoyment of the story. I love the way St. James writes, and she’s guaranteed that I am going to be hunting down more of her books to read in the near future.
I love the way the story moves back and forth in time as we know both timelines are building to something lifechanging and horrific, and perhaps the discovery of the truth behind who murdered a number of women in a small town, and how it has had an impact on the structure that is known as the Sun Down Motel.
Both Viv and Carly are what would be called murderinos, they are obsessed with being armchair detectives, putting things together, and figuring things out, but when they are caught up in actual events will they be able to see things through? And what of the restless ghosts that stalk the walkways and rooms of the motel?
I really enjoyed this one, the creep factor delightfully got under my skin, and I loved how St. James doled out her tale. I can’t wait to read more of her work!