Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Evening Spider - Emily Arsenault

Emily Arsenault's newest book, The Evening Spider, has just released.

Two women, both new mothers, living in the same house - 130 years apart - Frances in the 1800's and Abby in 2014.

Arsenault employs a story telling technique that I quite enjoy - alternating chapters of past and present. The past is told from Frances's viewpoint and noted in her journal. That same journal lands in the hands of Abby in the present.

Arsenault uses a slow building tension to keep the reader engaged. Are the doors really closing on their own? Is it the wind or is someone or something trying to calm the baby with a gentle "Shhh'. Is it truly gentle or threatening? Or is it simply Abby being exhausted? Perhaps postpartum depression? And what of Frances? She is a curious woman, with interests not quite befitting the social mores of her time. Her lawyer husband repeatedly quashes her spirit. Is she truly delusional? Or is she too suffering from postpartum illness?

I found it fascinating that Arsenault based the past in part on a real historical crime. And I really enjoyed Abby's digging into the past through historical society records and old newspapers. (I've done this myself - it's addicting and so interesting.) Arsenault has utilized journals, books and visiting the past to solve the present in previous books to great effect.

The slow building question of what is really happening in the present is mirrored by the slow reveal of what has happened in the the past. I did find the additional storyline added to the present - a death in Abby's past - to be extraneous. It just didn't feel like part of the story for me. I was much more interested in the past and Frances's life. I liked the  creepy 'haunted house' aspect of the novel. The ending was not quite what I had expected - good, but not as satisfying as I hoped - I found I still had questions after I turned the last page. A good, but not great read for me.

"Emily Arsenault is also the author of The Broken Teaglass, In Search of the Rose Notes, and Miss Me When I’m Gone. She lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, with her husband and daughter." You can connect with Emily on her website and find her on Facebook. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.


Kay said...

I've got this one on my list to read this spring. I've not read anything by this author, but she's one I've meant to read. I like the present/past storyline and this type of story reminds me a bit of Jennifer McMahon's books, which I have loved. Looking forward to The Evening Spider!

William Anderson said...

I'm adding this one to my TBR list. It sounds really good to me.

trish said...

Real historical crimes are so fascinating to me!

Thank you for being on the tour!