Thursday, July 4, 2019

Book Review: The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

Title: The Invited
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: April 30th 2019
Genre: Supernatural, Mystery, Adult
A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don't simply move into a haunted house--they build one . . .

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house--a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse--objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.

I had been eyeing The Invited by Jennifer McMahon since it first came out at the end of April. When a book club I'm in decided to make that their June read, I knew this was my opportunity to actually buy it. While it wasn't as great as I had imagined, it wasn't a bad read.

After receiving a big chunk of money from her father, Helen and her husband Nate decide to move to a small town in rural Vermont to build their own house. After buying the land at a very good price, Helen and Nate start building. It isn't long before they learn the legend of Hattie, a witch who was hanged on the bog where their house is being built. People swear the bog is haunted. Helen loves the history behind the bog and seeks out more information about Hattie which will ultimately put her and her husband in danger. Olive, a 14 year old girl, is searching for Hattie's treasure, another legend and wondering if the stories about her mother running off with another man or true. As Olive comes closer to discovering the truth about Hattie's treasure and what happened to her mother, it puts her that much closer to danger.

The plot for The Invited was interesting enough. I enjoyed learning about Hattie as well as her descendants. The book is written mostly from Olive's and Helen's point of view, but there are some characters where we get to see things from their point of view which I found intriguing. There are a few plot twists although I found them all to be easily predictable. Not one of the plot twists surprised me at all unfortunately. Still, I did enjoy reading the climax of the story and afterwards. I also enjoyed that there were no cliffhangers in this book.

I really enjoyed the character of Helen. She felt so realistic and like someone I would want to be friends with. I admired how laid back she was. I was indifferent about Nate. I just couldn't connect with him. I don't think he was written badly, but you could tell he wasn't meant to be a focal point in The Invited. I did like the character of Olive, but I felt like she was a lot younger than 14. I felt like she acted and spoke more like an 11 or 12 year old. I really had a hard time believing she was actually 14. I did admire how courageous she was and how determined on her goal whether it be to find Hattie's treasure or to find out the truth about what happened to her mother. I never really liked the character of Riley. She came across as someone who was trying too hard to be friendly. She felt too syrupy sweet. Hattie made a great ghost! There were times where I didn't trust her motives, and I couldn't figure out if I should be wary of her or if I should trust her.

The pacing for The Invited was slow throughout the majority of the book. The first few chapters were painfully slow. It was as if the author had word vomit and was describing every minute detail about the land and about Helen's inheritance. I felt like all that backstory was unneeded and definitely didn't need two or three chapters dedicated to it. After those chapters, the pacing picks up slightly, so it goes from being painfully slow to just slow. There were so many times I considered giving up on this book, but others in my book club said to keep on reading because it gets better. The pacing finally did pick up around 70 percent through the book. Once the pacing picked up, I couldn't put this book down! I had to know what would happen next even if it was predictable. (I had to make sure I had predicted correctly!)

Trigger warnings for The Invited include violence, death, murder, mentions of suicide, the occult, drug use (marijuana), drinking, some sexual references (not graphic), and profanity.

Overall, The Invited is a decent ghost story although there is more to the story than just that. It also makes for a decent mystery read. While it is mostly slow paced, the action does pick up eventually. I would recommend The Invited by Jennifer McMahon to those aged 16+ who enjoy a decent ghostly mystery.


  1. A different kind if ghost story. Intriguing.

  2. Great review! I read this one too and thought it was okay but slow in many parts.

    1. Thanks! I kept being hopeful it would pick up soon, but that wasn't the case. Oh well. At least it wasn't terrible =)