Friday, March 9, 2018

The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick

Author: Ben Dolnick
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Date of publication: February 2018

A supernatural story of love, ghosts, and madness as a young couple, newly engaged, become live-in caretakers of a historic museum. 

When Nick Beron and Hannah Rampe decide to move to the tiny upstate town of Hibernia, New York, they aren't running away, exactly, but they need a change. Their careers have flatlined, the city is exhausting, and they've reached a relationship stalemate. Hannah takes a job as live-in director of the Wright Historic House, a museum dedicated to an obscure nineteenth century philosopher, and she and Nick move into their new home--the town's remoteness, the speed with which she is offered the job, and the lack of museum visitors barely a blip in their considerations. At first life in this old, creaky house feels cozy--they speak in Masterpiece Theater accents, they take bottles of wine to the swimming hole. But as summer turns to fall Hannah begins to have trouble sleeping and she hears whispers in the night. One morning Nick wakes up to find Hannah gone. Now, in his frantic search for her he will discover the hidden legacy of Wright House: a man driven wild with grief, and a spirit aching for home.

I recently finished The Ghost Notebooks and I have no idea how I feel about it.  It was OK I guess.  The book was definitely not what I was expecting.  I wouldn't call it a supernatural story because, to me, it wasn't.  So don't go into this book expecting a ghost story.   The basic set up is that Nick and Hannah are stalemated in their relationship.  When Hannah gets a job as curator and caretaker for a small historical museum in upstate New York, they decide to make a fresh start and move there.  Hannah begins to go off the rails and disappears.

I'm not really sure what kept me reading this book.  It was really slow for the first two thirds of the story.  I guess I kept waiting for the ghost story to start up.  Instead, I got pages of a depression and decent into madness from the main character.  The entire story is told from Nick's perspective.  So we never get to see what Hannah is thinking or her motivation behind anything she does.  Is she really hearing ghosts or is she going mad because she stopped taking her medication?  I never got a sense either way.  The ending was rushed and made little sense to me. In the end, I can't say for sure what the author was trying to do with this story.  I'm just not sure I would really recommend this book.  


Ethan said...

I definitely would have expected more supernatural elements from this one!

SavingsInSeconds said...

Like you, I expected this to be a cool spooky book. There was some of that, but not as much I thought there would be. I did really like it though.