Cover Image: The Sun Down Motel

The Sun Down Motel

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Member Reviews

I love a good ghost story. This was for sure paranormal mix of mystery with ghosts. They were there to give you the spooks, but not distract you from the story and the mystery itself. 

I loved all the female characters in this one. They were strong but completely aware of societal limits to what they can do and how to go about them. The end in Carly's story was a nice wrap up for all the other females that didn't get their spotlight. The fact that this was dedicated to all the murderinos was just a cherry on top 

The plot was interesting, and maybe not twisty. But the paranormal aspect of it was what helped it. I don't need a complicated story to appreciate what this mystery was, but give me a ghost story that's realistic and not completely out there. I'll take a sad soul or one that hasn't come to terms to their own fate that will stick around a place any time. Loved Betty. 

It had its moments of pacing. And sometimes it felt dragged out a bit, but other than that I completely enjoyed reading this one and solving the mystery along these fab women.
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A big thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for the free advanced copy of The Sun Down Motel. I requested a copy after a friend recommended it. She thought it was creepy and I needed a bit of a change from my normal reading.

The Sun Down Motel is a motel in Fell, New York with a history of women disappearing in and around it. Fell is a town full of secrets. After her mom dies, Carly, decides to go looking to find out what really happened to her aunt Viv 35 years ago at The Sun Down, starting with getting a job there.

Working the night shift, The Sun Down comes alive with the ghosts of people past, and Carly attempts to find out what happened to each of them to land them there. Along the way, she makes friends with locals who are willing to help her dig into the past to uncover the truth of Viv and the other women who went missing/were murdered around Fell.

I will say, I was expecting it to be more scary/creepy after my friend's review. I didn't find that this book was overly scary. That being said, it was still a very good book that I would recommend to others. But I would omit the "so scary I couldn't sleep" part my friend had sold me on.
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Sun down motel is a mystery that flashes back between 2 different time periods and revolves around a young woman trying to figure out what happened to her aunt when she disappeared years ago. The motel is haunted and strange things happen there. I must admit that at the beginning of the book I was a little creeped out. I was reading about the ghosts while alone in the dark and then something fell down in my room and I freaked out and stopped reading. Most times books don’t scare me so that was fun! The book is not horror it just has its creepy moments. I enjoyed unraveling the mystery in both time periods but sometimes had a hard time switching back and forth btwn the two times as there were some of the same people involved in both periods and of course the same motel. I think I would have enjoyed more consecutive chapters from the same viewpoint but totally see why the author chose to do it this way so she could slowly reveal secrets in both times. Overall, it was a solid book that had me interested right up until the end.
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The Sun Down Motel, Wow! This was a great read.
This book had all the things I love in a book, thrills, twist, romance, and did I mention a few ghost. Simone St. James  really came trough with this book.
I would not want to stay nor work at this motel. Simone did a good job with
the two different time lines. Not once was i confused about who was talking.
Hghly recommend!
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Author Simone St. James penned the stunningly spooky mystery, The Broken Girls, set in a boarding school for troubled or outcast girls. She has followed up that impressive foray into supernatural suspense with The Sun Down Motel. 

The story is related through two narratives. One is the third-person recitation of Viv Delaney's experiences in 1982, culminating on the night in November when she vanished and was never heard from again. The other is Carly Kirk's 2017 first-person description of her quest to learn what happened to her aunt Viv. 

Carly's mother never recovered from the loss of her sister. Fourteen months after her mother's death from cancer at the age of 51, twenty-year-old Carly has left college, taken her modest inheritance and, over the objections of her brother, Graham, traveled to Fell, New York. Carly has been stumbling through life in a fog of grief since her mother's death. Grieving her mother has caused her to "rethink everything" in her life. Carly has always been a self-described "nerd" -- the kid who read books about murders and disappearances, and has been obsessed her whole life with the disappearance of Viv, an event her mother hated to think or speak about. 

Viv is presumed to have been murdered, although her body was never found. Now Carly is determined to see the place where it happened and understand why Viv was "allowed to vanish into nothingness with barely a ripple." Upon her arrival in Fell, Carly learns that there have been several murders of young women in the depressing little town. She finds Viv's old apartment, now occupied by the eccentric Heather, a student at local Fell College. Heather offers to let Carly move in and is eager to assist with Carly's investigation into Viv's disappearance. 

In 1982, Viv takes a job at the night clerk at the rundown, sketchy Sun Down Motel on the outskirts of town. Alone in the motel's front office, strange things occur during the night. The smell of cigarette smoke wafts into the office, even though no one is smoking in the vicinity. She hears heavy footsteps, even though there is no one else there. Doors open and close on their own, the lights go out, and she hears a voice telling her, "Run," after she is shoved backward by an unseen force. From time to time rowdy guests prompt Viv to summon the local police. Officer Alma Trent, the only female cop in Fell, responds and advises Viv about the motel's history -- the deaths of a young boy who hit his head on the side of the pool and an employee who suffered a fatal heart attack in the office are not the worst things to have happened at the Sun Down, according to Alma. Viv's curiosity leads her to investigate what else transpired at the motel and why the strange occurrences seem to coincide with a particular traveling salesman checking in. 

Like Viv, Carly ends up working at the Sun Down at night. The motel is essentially frozen in time. The rooms haven't changed, the pool remains empty and fenced off, the wifi reception is sporadic, and the telephone system is antiquated. And Carly experiences the same strange events that Viv did. The lights go out sequentially, she hears noises, there are strange smells . . . and she sees people that she shouldn't be seeing.

St. James skillfully details Carly and Viv's journeys of discovery, 35 years apart. Both young women are intelligent, analytical, and devoted. They are also both likable and empathetic, lost in their own ways and determined not to let circumstances or obstacles deter them from uncovering the truth. They are both fueled by an innate sense of right of right and wrong, and motivated by a desire to see justice carried out. Neither is dissuaded by the ghostly, frightening occurrences at the motel or the eclectic cast of supporting characters who move about the motel. 

St. James masterfully ramps up the tension gradually as each woman inches toward discovering exactly what happened at the motel prior to her arrival . . . and increasingly finds herself in danger from people and forces who will stop at nothing to prevent the truth from being revealed. The Sun Down Motel is a darkly atmospheric tale in which the motel features as a prominent, creepy character, exploding menacingly at expertly-timed intervals. St. James effortlessly merges the dueling narratives as the motel erupts with the shocking truth.

The Sun Down Motel proves again that St. James is a uniquely creative writer as she effortlessly melds a mystery -- Viv's disappearance so many years ago -- with a keep-the-light-on-while-you're-reading ghost story that will haunt readers long after all of the Sun Down Motel's unseemly secrets are revealed.
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This was an enjoyable, quick read.  

Told in two different time lines, we follow two characters.  First is Viv, Upstate, New York 1982 and her disappearance.  Second POV is Carly, which is Viv's niece in 2017 Upstate, New York.  

Viv goes missing from the Sun Down Motel many years ago, trying to figure out some mysterious happenings around the motel, and Carly really just wants to know what happened to her. This novel definitely keeps you engaged and wondering what were the mysterious events that took over Viv's everyday life.  While I did enjoy this book, I did find that at the end it was a little bit of a let down.  The big mysterious reveal just didn't grip me like I thought it would.

Nonetheless, it was very well written and entertaining story.
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I really love anything to do with creepy old motels. They just have this particular vibe...which Simone St. James captures so well. I've said before that she's really spectacular at writing atmosphere, and The Sun Down Motel is no exception. She does such a fantastic job bringing this creepy hotel, with its buzzing neon sign, to life. The 80s setting was also vibrant; I got a lot of Stranger Things vibes while reading this. It was appropriately creepy; not sure why I didn't realize this was going to be a supernatural thriller, but it is, and I liked the added ghost element.

I did find myself a little underwhelmed with the plot, though I'm not sure why. I think I expected more twists than I got; as it was, the plot followed a fairly predictable route. I kept waiting for the rug to be pulled from under me, but then...nothing. Which isn't to say the plot was bad. I enjoyed it a lot, but I just...wanted something more from it, but I couldn't tell you exactly what.

Also, there were a lot of characters here, and a lot of them felt extraneous, particularly Nick and Callum. I know Simone St. James always likes to include an element of romance, but Nick's character was just so...pointless. His role could have been entirely fulfilled by Heather, who was much more interesting. And Callum...was he just there to be creepy? All these characters with their generic white names were kind of hard to keep track of, especially when you consider you have to keep track of all the girls who died and the details of how they were killed.

And this is just a personal hang-up, but like, you have all these female characters in this book and every single one is heterosexual?? I just thought that so many of these characters had so much chemistry with one another and it would have just made so much more sense for one or another to get together, but then...disappointment. Alas. But Simone St. James' books have always been aggressively heterosexual, so.
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I loved EVERYTHING about this book. From the ghosts to the dual stories. I’ve been on the hunt for a GOOD thriller and I can honestly say that this one delivered! 

I wish I read it sooner. Hats off to the author.
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I loved the setting of a small town, a run down hotel, great characters, spooky scenes, and a lot of suspense and mystery in this one.  There was one aspect that I thought was going to be a big twist in the end but it didn't happen and I kind of felt disappointed about the missed opportunity, which would have made this a 5 star read for me.
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Carly knows very little about her aunt.  She disappeared thirty-five years ago.  Is she dead or is she hiding?  She decides to go to the town and see what she can find out.  She even signs on as a night clerk at the same motel...

Berkley and Net Galley gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It's being published today.

What Carly finds is that several women were killed in this small town.  Different years, just dead bodies to be found and no relationship between the women.  There was one witness who said she saw a salesman go up to the house but she never saw him leave.  Her aunt Viv (years ago) starts watching the salesman that use the motel.

Carly also finds that the motel is haunted.  She sees Betty, another dead woman dumped on the construction site before the motel was built.  She also sees a young boy that died in the swimming pool.  And she can smell the cigarette smoke of a previous night clerk that died from a heart attack.  He eventually shows himself to her, too.  They try to warn her of danger, but she doesn't understand.

With ghosts and killers from the past and in the present, it makes you wonder who is going to win.  It's a suspenseful read, with Viv and Carly sharing chapters.  Pay attention to which one you're reading about or you'll get confused.

The ending was something else.  I'm just glad Carly found herself a boyfriend.
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This book screamed out for me to read it. I was looking forward to being freaked out by ghosts in a haunted motel.

I wasn't freaked out. I wasn't even a little bit spooked. 

We have two timelines. One brings us to a secluded motel in 1982, where a young woman works the overnight shift while she's trying to figure out her life. She goes missing under strange circumstances and is never found. In the current timeline, the missing woman's niece shows up at the now mostly abandoned but unchanged motel, determined to figure out what happened to her aunt.

The two timelines bleed into one another, largely because Viv's and Carly's characters feel interchangeable. It's often unclear which character is narrating, and I'd have to stop a moment to orient myself in the story.

Most of the other characters fell flat for me, either too intentionally odd or too convenient for the circumstances. Or both.

Pacing is extremely slow throughout most of the book, picking up speed for an ending that felt overblown and more silly than scary.

The setting has it all. That, combined with the promise of ghostly encounters, kept me reading. Unfortunately, for me it didn't live up to the chilling, scary story I expected.
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Vivian Delaney is working as the night clerk in the Sun Down Motel in the small town of Fell, New York after leaving home.  The small town has a history of girls disappearing and Viv finds herself caught up in the mystery before disappearing herself.  35 years later her niece Carly goes to Fell in search of answers.  Strange things happen at the motel as both women search for answers.  Well written and impossible to put down,
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It has been a while since I truly could not wait to get my hands on a book. I think back to the days of waiting for the next Harry Potter novel to publish, grabbing up a copy at midnight, and breathlessly reading into the early morning. That's the level of anticipation with which I approached Simone St. James' latest novel The Sun Down Motel. You see, The Broken Girls, her previous release, was THE book of 2018 for me. Something about combining a cold case mystery with a dash of supernatural horror entranced me to no end. Even as I write this review, I can't escape the spell that novel cast upon me. Seriously, read The Broken Girls! Anyway, I've been anxiously awaiting the release of this novel pretty much since finishing her last. I was fortunate enough to be provided with an advanced copy of the novel from the publisher (I sought out this review copy, something I rarely do!) and am pleased to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book too.

The small town of Fell, NY is beyond the place that would be considered "off the beaten path". It is the kind of place that only the locals seem to truly be aware of. Aside from the local college, there isn't really anything else to draw someone to stay. As such, the local Sun Down Motel has seen better days. The year is 1982, and the motel is only drawing drifters and locals who are up to no good. Despite the ramshackle appearance and questionable occupants, Viv Delaney sees the motel as the ideal stepping stone to her future aspirations. If she can just hold down a job as a night clerk for a few months, she'll have enough saved to make the big move to NYC.

In the present day, the old motel is still standing and operating, a little more run-down than before, but a fixture of the town nonetheless. Looking for a reason to escape her life, especially after her mother succumbed to cancer, Carly decides to follow in the footsteps of her aunt Vivian and move out to Fell. Decades ago, Viv disappeared without a trace. The mystery of her vanishing has haunted Carly's family ever since. Determined to retrace Viv's steps, Carly takes on the same job as a night clerk and does some amateur detective work of her own.

Like The Broken Girls, The Sun Down Motel finds great success in immersing the reader in its sense of place. The titular motel is presented in such detail that I could feel myself getting lost in its decaying surroundings. St. James writes alternating chapters of past and present day, the two taking on a mirror-like quality as Carly retraces the journey of Viv all those years ago. At times, I did find myself jumping back to the beginning of the chapters to remind myself which time period/perspective I was in. The two girls' stories are so similar that it did get a bit tedious to keep track of who I was reading about. Still, I eagerly raced through each page to see what would happen next. Ultimately, The Sun Down Motel is a novel about haunting. The place is haunted by the ghosts of the town's horrific past, and Carly is haunted by the questions surrounding her aunt's disappearance. The two threads come together in a beautiful, albeit a bit rushed, conclusion that left me stunned at the sheer magnitude of emotions I was feeling. Simone St. James has a way of leaving me haunted by what I experienced at the end of her works to the point that I'll find myself reflecting on them for days and weeks after finishing. Count this one as another win from an author who is quickly becoming one of my favorites.
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Simone St. James wrote one my favorite book of 2018 so you could say I was looking forward to her latest release, The Sun Down Motel. Just like her bestseller, The Broken Girls, you have a fantastic blend of historical mystery and the paranormal. 

Alternating between Viv and Carly, we see how their stories intertwine and delve deeper into the mysteries of the missing girls in Fell, NY.  Are these disappearances related? Who is checking into the motel? Why are the doors opening and shutting on their own? Missing women, Seriel killers, ghosts and a satisfying romance propel this excellent story. I couldn't stop reading!

I seriously can’t believe I’m saying this but sometimes the ghost/supernatural parts were unnecessary when the mystery/serial killer elements were so strong. Those elements were sometimes overkill. But otherwise, I loved my second Simone St.James book. Mystery and ghosts are my favorite genres and she does them both together so well. Highly recommend
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Ghost stories are not really my genre, but the description on this one sounded intriguing.  Two characters share the story, Viv from her 1982 experiences in working the night shift at the creepy motel, and her niece, Carly, working the same nightshift, living in the same apartment and investigating the same mysteries, only in 2017.  

After the death of her mother, Carly sets out to Fell, New York to come to terms with not only the death, but also her aunt's 1982 disappearance.  Many girls were reported missing, and later ended up found to be murdered in Fell between the years of 1978 and 1982, and Viv was assumed to be another disappearance or murder that remained unsolved.  Through Viv's story arc, the reader learns she ran away from home at the age of 20 and ended up working for the Sun Down Motel because that was the option that presented itself.  Immediately after Viv begins the job, mysterious things happen, the lights flicker and die out, the doors to all the rooms swing open and there are whiffs of cigarette smoke, with no smoker in sight - in fact, very few people even check into the motel.  As Carly traces her aunt's disappearance, she experiences these same paranormal activities and closes in on what Viv found before her disappearance.  

I thought this book was a little slow at the start, no "jump-out-at-you" action or scene, even though I felt there was  room for something like that.  As the story builds, the reader has opportunities to make predictions of what happened and there are a few twists that are surprising.   Being a ghost story there are, of course, murders and deaths, but none are described in gory detail.  In fact, both girls on numerous occasions innocently question what "violated" means in reference to the murdered girls' bodies.  At the end, there is a little harsh language, but for the most part this is a great ghost story for someone in the mood for one, but doesn't like to be too scared or avoids the detailed gore and gruesomeness of other books in this genre.  A step up from a "cozy" mystery, but not as harsh as a full blown horror novel; "Sun Down Motel" is a comfortable in-between!
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If ever you wanted a story to make you think twice about staying in a hotel, The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James is for you. In fact, it is a pretty fitting story right now since we should not be traveling anyway. After all, a haunted hotel where bad things tend to happen will all but eliminate any wanderlust.

I don’t know why, since I adored Ms. St. James’ other novel Broken Girls, but The Sun Down Motel surprised me with its impressive mix of suspense and quirk. It is one of the few dual narrator/dual timeline stories that I thoroughly enjoyed in recent years. Plus, there is an unexpected feminist element to the story that I loved.

It takes a lot for a story to get under my skin, but The Sun Down Motel spooked me quite a bit. I will confess to having to set the book aside a few times because a particular scene was bothering me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I kept reading.

I will admit to deducing the ending before the reveal. I beat the reveal by a few pages, and I am perfectly okay with that. Mysteries I can solve a few pages before the author unveils the answer never bother me. Plus, there are so many other aspects of the story to enjoy of which the mystery’s resolution is one small part.

The Sun Down Motel is a chilling and impressive suspense novel that keeps you on your toes with its many shifts and twists. With its elements of feminist revenge and haunted motel vibe, it makes for a great self-isolation read that will help you while away a few hours. It might also cure you of any desire to travel right now, something we all need as we head into our second week of self-isolation.
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*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*

My review can be found at:
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This one started out promising but then lost me at the end. All the switching back and forth in time had me struggling to keep it straight as well. I didn't really enjoy it, struggled to finish it and therefore wouldn't recommend the book.
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This book was a rollercoaster of thrillers. Such a fun read. This was my first novel by this author and it won't be the last. I really enjoyed the storyline and I loved the supernatural part of it. I definitely wanna read more of her work.
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3.5 Stars

Carly has come to Fell, New York, and the Sun Down motel in particular for answers. Her aunt disappeared whilst working as the night clerk at the Sun Down motel 35 years before. Now Carly is retracing her footsteps, including taking a job as a night clerk. But, she may be following too closely in her aunt’s footsteps. As things start getting more dangerous, will Carly be another victim to the sinister monsters that seem to haunt the Sun Down?

This was my first book by Simone St. James and I was looking forward to her deliverance of a tense and suspenseful mystery. I wanted to be kept on the edge of my seat, forever guessing what dreadful thing is just around the corner. Unfortunately this book wasn’t quite that exciting, but I did enjoy the story.

If you like a book that very slowly builds up the story, then you will enjoy this. However, I found that this too slow. There was too much build up before anything actually happened. And, although this build up did help contribute to the overall spooky atmosphere, I didn’t think that the pay off was exciting enough to be worth the wait.

Part of the reason it was slow to start is, perversely, one of the things I liked about this book. It was told from two separate timelines, Carly and her aunt Viv back in the early 80’s. You could see the parallels in the women’s stories as they investigated the strange goings on in the Sun Down motel. This worked well in showing the reader what they needed to know and keeping the tension up.

Over all, I liked this book, but I am not sure I would be in a rush to read St.James again. This was too slow to start and I had guessed at a lot of the story before it had happened.
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