Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Ghost Stories for Winter Nights

Sometimes the winter season puts me in the mood to read cozy, Pym-esque books. This year, however, all I've been in the mood for are mysteries, dark thrillers, or ghost stories, as evidenced by the facts that I'm currently re-reading The Woman in White and that I only seem to want to watch moody TV shows like Broadchurch. In case you happen to be feeling the same, I thought I share a quick recommendation for Simone St. James, a Canadian author whose books I discovered last summer summer. Her three novels, The Haunting of Maddy Clare, Silence for the Dead, and An Inquiry into Love and Death take place during the inter-War years. They follow three different young women who are on their own in life and who find themselves in unusual jobs that throw them into the midst of mysteries with supernatural twists.

The fact that St. James's novels have so many common elements could easily turn them into cliched retellings of the same story. What saves them from this, though, is the way that St. James seems to take pains to develop her casts of characters in unique and interesting ways. In spite of the basic similarities of their circumstances, all of her protagonists are uniquely and vividly drawn. The same is true for the love interests they meet along the way--all former soldiers whose battle with the metaphorical ghosts of war create an added layer of depth as they battle more tangible ghosts in the course of the novels. Although it's obvious that St. James has a formulaic approach to her writing, it's one that works and that exceeds expectations thanks to her attention to detail and character development.

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