Book Review: The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor by Amy M. Reade

23450152Title: The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor

Author: Amy M. Reade

Genre: Romance, Mystery, Suspense

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Do you know what stories Sarah could tell you about the things that happened in these little cabins? They’d curl that pretty red hair of yours.”

Outside of Charleston, South Carolina, beyond hanging curtains of Spanish moss, at the end of a shaded tunnel of overarching oaks, stands the antebellum mansion of Peppernell Manor in all its faded grandeur. At the request of her friend Evie Peppernell, recently divorced Carleigh Warner and her young daughter Lucy have come to the plantation house to refurbish the interior. But the tall white columns and black shutters hide a dark history of slavery, violence, and greed. The ghost of a former slave is said to haunt the home, and Carleigh is told she disapproves of her restoration efforts. And beneath the polite hospitality of the Peppernell family lie simmering resentments and poisonous secrets that culminate in murder—and place Carleigh and her child in grave danger…

All right, so for some reason, I expected The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor to be a ghost story. Jeez, could it be… I don’t know, the title? Or the synopsis that focuses so much on ghosts!  And with ghost story, I mean remotely creepy. It’s not. It’s a romantic mystery (with not even that much of a mystery), and only a limited amount of suspense. There is a ghost, yes, but she’s mentioned so scarcely she may as well not be mentioned at all.

We do meet the ghost, Sarah, in the prologue and sporadically throughout the novel (although we don’t see her, we just hear about her from another one of the characters) but rather than scary, she just comes across as tragic. Then we focus on the main character, Carleigh, and from that point on, the book stays stuck on her POV. Carleigh and her young daughter Lucy have come to the plantation house, Peppernell Manor, to refurbish the interior. Carleigh is glad to escape her ex and to spend some time with her college friend, Evie. The renovation is not entirely approved by all the members of Evie’s family though – some of them seem keen on selling the property to investors, while Evie’s grandmother wants to keep it in the family. With all these lies and secrets buried underneath, Carleigh finds herself in the middle of a family drama, that may end in a bad turn…

So, when leaving out the ghosts, the book is actually not all that bad. But the synopsis is so misleading! It keeps on focusing on the ghost, and then the murders, as if they’re connected somehow, which they aren’t. A lot of time is spent dealing with the renovation – seriously, I almost feel like I know how to start renovating a house now! And I wouldn’t have minded that, had the plot not been so dull and straightforward. Even the characters lack complexity. Carleigh makes some weird choices sometimes, and she’s not always likeable either.

The problem is: the plot, the writing, the characters, none of it is bad. But it’s not good either. There’s no excitement, no tension, no suspense. I’d only recommend this one if you don’t mind a slow plot, or if you want a story about house renovation.

 

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