From the author of The Uninvited comes a haunting historical novel with a compelling mystery at its core. A young child psychologist steps off a train, her destination a foggy seaside town. There, she begins a journey causing her to question everything she believes about life, death, memories, and reincarnation.
In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.
Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination. But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.
Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.
I’ve only read The Uninvited from Cat Winters and it was perfectly amazing—from the creepy plotlines to the carefully delineated characters. I instantly adored her and she became one of my favorite paranormal authors. Yesternight shares the same eerie concept as The Uninvited as well as Winters’ fluid writing style but it just wasn’t as captivating. The premise was good actually, but that ending left me unimpressed. For a story that started out solid and strong, this book had a rather sloppy and unsatisfying end to it. It was a good four star read until the final quarter of the book that felt like such a letdown. It gave me the feeling that the novel was ended in a rush. It’s as if the author built up all those nice things from an interesting foundation and just got lazy and want out.
The book centers in the idea of reincarnation and insanity. Alice Lind is a child psychologist whose job is to go to schools and conduct intelligence test to students. The same job took her to Oregon where she meet seven-year-old Janie O’Daire, who claims to have lived a past life as Violet Sunday. Janie’s parents have different takes on their daughter’s eccentricities. Michael—Janie’s father—strongly believed that it was a case of reincarnation while Rebecca—Janie’s mother—was afraid it might be a form of mental illness but shuns any psychological help anyway. Aside from being a trained psychologist, Alice, is a non-believer of the supernatural, and therefore she seeks explanations on Janie’s behavior in the psychological territory although she didn’t completely ruled out the reincarnation theory. As the author injects Alice into the mystery that is Janie, I was most curious about what course would the story go. Would it take the unnatural and unearthly path of reincarnation and affright us all with its eeriness? Or would it stick to its psychological aspects instead, and delve into the mental treatments during that time period?
Took a stick and beat her friend.
Should she die?
Should she live?
How many beatings did she give?
Alice’s little investigation about Janie and Violet Sunday instigated some of her violent childhood memories to rise to the surface and along with it were huge questions about her and her past. And I didn’t find myself caring at all. Despite being such an independent woman, Alice was a difficult character to like. A huge chunk of my interest was lost the moment Alice’s issues were on the spotlight, to be honest. She’s kind of an unconventional character—a woman who wanted to succeed and make a name in a male dominated career—and I liked that. I liked that she’s strong and driven but beyond that I find myself not caring. I was rather enjoying the strangeness that surrounds Janie. I was even willing to forgive the fact that the little girl had too little page-time for someone who plays such a big role in the plot. Sadly, her part of the story wasn’t given a proper conclusion. It was like the puzzle about Janie and Violet Sunday had been sloppily put together and abruptly abandoned to give way to digging up Alice’s misdeeds which, I think, was the weakest part of the book! Things began falling apart from there on.
The historical setting didn’t impress me as Winters’ other work did. Or maybe, reading Alison Goodman’s luscious depiction of the 1800’s in Lady Helen Series made me raise my standards on atmospheric delivery a bit higher? I didn’t quite get so much 1925 feels in this book except for the random mention of the war. Much of the efforts, I think, were poured into building up the mystery around Janie and so less was given to developing an atmospheric setting. The sacrifice wouldn’t have irate me so much if the plot hadn’t took a turn into a ridiculous direction.
And that ending? Other readers may find that ending spooky, surprising, heart-wrenching. But it did not work for me. If anything, it just ruined the hard work laid on the first three quarters of the book. The conclusion to Janie’s case wasn’t in any way satisfying. The conclusion to Alice’s case was ridiculous. She did made some improper decisions towards the end and I would have wanted to see her face the consequences as the strong, independent, and ambitious woman that she is. Instead she snapped, became violent, lied about what happened, and easily got away with what she did! Sigh.
I had high hopes about loving this book simply because it’s a Cat Winters book. Sadly, I didn’t quite enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed The Uninvited. I probably won’t be picking this up for a re-read but I still adore Cat Winters and I’d definitely still pick up whatever she writes in the future.