(I just love the soft loveliness of this cover!)
A historical fiction ghost story that was just the Goldilocks-perfect level of tension! The Haunting of Maddy Clare is set in 1920s England, and the main character is a young lady who is just starting her professional life. I just love that: right from the beginning we know that our protagonist is AWESOME because not a lot of young ladies had careers back then. There certainly weren't a ton of them living on their own. And here's Sarah, taking assorted jobs from a temp agency, including the job that becomes the focal point of this novel.
For her next job, she's going to travel with Alistair (a single young man, ooh la la) to the countryside to investigate a ghost. At the very beginning of the book, I was thinking that maybe the team would travel to the countryside, investigate the "haunted" barn, and declare it all a sham. But no: there really is an honest-to-goodness ghost in the book! As I mentioned, the book has the perfect tension to it; yes, there's a ghost and that's spooky, but there's also investigation into the back story of the ghost and some contemporary plot that rounds out the story.
When Alistair and Sarah reach the village where they're to investigate the ghost of Maddy Clare, they're joined by Alistair's male assistant, Matthew. Since Maddy Clare hated/feared men in life, her ghost continues to refuse men after death; so it falls to Sarah to go into the haunted barn to try to talk to Maddy Clare. She's to take in an audio recorder and a camera to try to get proof of the ghost for Alistair's future book on the subject, and try to find out what "unfinished business" Maddy Clare needs to take care of before moving on. The scenes where Sarah is in the barn are a bit scary, but they're nicely spaced out throughout the book.
I also loved the mystery aspect to the novel. The team is not just there to study the ghost; they're also under obligation by the owner of the barn to get rid of the ghost. In order to do that, they must follow a very few, very cryptic clues from Maddy Clare. They also interview many of the locals to get some background information. The author does a fantastic job skillfully planting a few red herrings along the way, and I was kept guessing until the end!
And finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the touch of romance in The Haunting of Maddy Clare. This novel actually won an award for the love story, so you know it's good! I don't want to give any spoilers, but the love interest is contemporary to the characters, and doesn't involve the ghost. ;)
I really enjoyed this book! The cover caught my eye; I didn't know a thing about the plot before I dove in. Four and half of five stars, and I've already recommended this to others!
*I received an ARC of The Haunting of Maddy Clare from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review. Thank you!