Book Review: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel

It’s been a while since I read a thriller I truly enjoyed, especially when that said book does so many things I usually don’t like in books. And it did it right. This book has quickly gone to the top of the list of books I’ve read in 2020 so far.

I discovered it completely through happenstance as well, as I was browsing through new books coming out soon at my library, and this one looked interesting. I’m so happy I actually picked it and listened to the audiobook version.

Release: Feb. 18, 2020

Synopsis: In 1982, Viv Delaney vanishes from the Sun Down Motel in upstate New York while working as the night clerk. In 2017, Carly Kirk goes to the same town to discover what happened to her aunt, Viv. Both are drawn into the dark world of the motel, where doors open mysteriously and shadows move around.

Non-Spoiler Review

This book does so many things right that I don’t often enjoy in books. We have two perspectives and eras, blending together. You have two very similar main characters in Viv and Carly. You have a pretty conveniently happy ending. All these elements I usually dislike, but I enjoyed it all in this book. There is this perfect atmosphere of suspense. The parallels between Viv and Carly made the story more interesting and not annoying. The mystery was prefectly handled and I never felt disinterested. Everything fit together perfectly.

Saying that (without getting into spoilers), the ending did feel a bit too perfect for me. I wanted an ending almost more gritty and dark like the atmosphere felt like throughout the book, but instead the ending felt like all the badness went away and happiness returned. This is completely just my personal preference though, and I could entirely see why the author would give this story a happy ending.

Something about the writing style also felt like Stephen King’s writing, focusing on characters and suspense more than straight up horror and drama. Everything felt really subtly done in this book, even if much of the mystery isn’t all that hidden. Like I figured out the main murderer pretty early on and then it was just the question of whether he atoned for his crimes.

Now, there is some light romance in this book, both for Viv and Carly, which I found didn’t really add anything to the story. Saying that, it wasn’t very prominent and so I didn’t care too much that it was in the book. If the story had focused more on it, I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed this book as much, but as it was I found the focus on the book always centered on what was most important to the overall story. Even when I was introduced to a side-plot I was sure I wouldn’t like, it ended up being relative in a really great way to the story.

The haunting or more horror aspects were well handled too. Even if they were there in the background creating a creepy atmosphere, I never felt like the author used them to just scare the reader, instead having them add something to the story or character progression.

I feel like there are a lot of things I want to talk about that would be spoilers, but I also enjoyed this book so much I don’t want to give anything away for someone who reads this blog post and might end up reading the book.

Have you read this book? If not, I highly recommend it. Does it look like something that you might like to read? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

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