About mini reviews:
Maybe you’re not an audio book person, or maybe you are. I provide mini reviews of audio books and give a recommendation on the format. Was this book improved by a voice actor? Would a physical copy have been better? Perhaps they complement each other? Read on. . .
The Invited is my second Jennifer McMahon (she/her) audiobook (the first was The Drowning Kind). I’m seeing some consistency! McMahon appears to enjoy ghost stories that aren’t horrifying and the way history just won’t quit pestering the present. In The Invited, Helen’s father dies and leaves her some money, so she and husband Nate quit their school teacher jobs and buy some land near a bog to build their own house. Themselves. I can’t imagine building a house on such unstable, you know, boggy ground, but it’s not my house!
Helen, who taught history, discovers the story of Hattie Breckenridge, who was hanged in the early 1900s in their bog for being a witch. As the town shares more tales about Hattie’s ghost, Helen investigates with the help of her teen neighbor and in direct opposition to her husband’s feelings about the paranormal stuff. Soon, elements of the house — a beam, some bricks, a mantle — are constructed with found materials. “Found,” that is, as Helen bought them when she realized they were connected with horrible deaths. She’s literally building a haunted house.
The audio is narrated by Amanda Carlin and Justine Eyre. Once of the voice actors reads a single chapter, and I could not decide why she did. The chapters switch narrators several times with the same audio narrator, so I thought this an odd choice. Therefore, I’m not sure which name really deserves all the credit. Anyway, the entire thing is read beautifully, clearly, and I didn’t struggle to hear or have to turn the volume knob up and down.
I enjoy how McMahon gets the main character running around doing research in the name of ghostly events, so if you’re a fan of hearing stories about the past and linking clues, you’ll enjoy The Invited too. I did have most of the ending figured out, but only because the limited cast gives us a Scooby Doo number of who-dunnit options. The only aspect I didn’t like was how the husband, Nate, was mad at Helen for doing research, even though he married a historian. Was his characterization there to add tension, to make Helen more secretive, or because he was afraid of real ghosts despite his claims to the contrary? And yet the scope of murdered Hattie’s influence, and the reason she’s haunting Helen, was captivating. I found myself getting a bit spacey while driving; never a good sign for me but a positive one for the author.
CW: suicide and violence off the page, murder