Publisher: William Morrow Paperback
Publication Date: January 26th, 2016
A gripping blend of psychological suspense and historical true crime, this riveting novel—inspired by a sensational real-life murder from the 1800s—by critically acclaimed author Emily Arsenault delivers a heart-stopping mystery linking two young mothers from different centuries.
Frances Barnett and Abby Bernacki are two haunted young mothers living in the same house in two different centuries.
1885: Frances Barnett is in the Northampton Lunatic Hospital, telling her story to a visitor. She has come to distrust her own memories, and believes that her pregnancy, birth, and early days of motherhood may have impaired her sanity.
During the earliest months of her baby’s life, Frances eagerly followed the famous murder trial of Mary Stannard—that captivated New Englanders with its salacious details and expert forensic testimony. Following—and even attending—this trial, Frances found an escape from the monotony of new motherhood. But as her story unfolds, Frances must admit that her obsession with the details of the murder were not entirely innocent.
Present day: Abby has been adjusting to motherhood smoothly—until recently, when odd sensations and dreams have begun to unsettle her while home alone with her baby. When she starts to question the house’s history, she is given the diary of Frances Barnett, who lived in the house 125 years earlier. Abby finds the diary disturbing, and researches the Barnett family’s history. The more Abby learns, the more she wonders about a negative—possibly supernatural—influence in her house. She becomes convinced that when she sleeps, she leaves her daughter vulnerable—and then vows not to sleep until she can determine the cause of her eerie experiences.
Frances Barnett might not be the only new mother to lose her mind in this house. And like Frances, Abby discovers that by trying to uncover another’s secrets, she risks awakening some of her own.
What Did I Think About the Story?
When I read the synopsis for The Evening Spider I immediately reached out to the wonderful ladies at TLC Book Tours and asked to please be a part of this tour. It had so many elements I love in one package: historical setting and true crime; psychological suspense; possibly ghosts with nefarious plans creeping around a creaky old house, terrifying a new mom. Jackpot! Now having finished I'm a little torn about how I feel about the story overall. Did I enjoy it? Very much! Did it live up to what I was expecting in my head or give me the gasping shock I wanted as my mind was blown by unexpected revelations? Not exactly.
The set up of the chapters was a little odd to me at first, but as I kept reading I really began to enjoy it. The story is broken up in short, alternating chapters between Frances in a Lunatic Asylum in 1885 as she relays to her brother the actions that brought her there five years before and Abby in 2014 trying to figure out what spirits might be haunting her house and possibly injuring her baby daughter. Once I got used to this pattern I found that it definitely kept the pages turning as little, unsettling bits of information are continuously dropped for the reader just before it switches back to the other storyline. And there are some legitimately creepy aspects about both storylines that I found just delicious.
I think my favorite creepy aspect would have to be Abby trying to figure out whether her house is truly haunted or whether she might be starting to lose her mind. She hears shushing on her baby monitor, doors are hard to open as though someone is pushing against it, she starts having these disturbing nightmares with someone else's baby in it as well as dreams that hint at something horrible having happened in Abby's past....it all adds up to just a general feeling of foreboding and I kept waiting to see exactly which way her somewhat tenuous hold on sanity was going to fall.
This isn't to say that Frances's story didn't have a lot to offer. From the get-go the way she was having such a seemingly innocuous conversation with her brother while sitting in a Lunatic Asylum made me think she was off her rocker and was going to really shock me with what we were going to learn. She was a very odd character and the way she presented her story made me think I wasn't quite getting the full picture. Towards the end of the novel I kept feverously turning pages to see what would happen and then....
Unfortunately I found the ending for both storylines odd and mostly unsatisfying. For the life of me I cannot figure out why the author chose to end both the way she did. We only learn bits and pieces of what really happened in Frances's story while never getting much reasoning or follow up and, in Abby's case, I still don't fully know what was happening. Abby makes a decision in her past that, no matter which way I try to reason it, I cannot fathom why she did it and there is no real resolution to her story. I was left feeling sort of like....is that all?
Unsatisfying ending aside The Evening Spider did hold my attention and give me hours of entertainment. Others might like the ending better than I did, so if the synopsis sounds like something you would generally enjoy I would recommend giving it a try. Just don't expect to be blown away when you turn the last page.
What Did I Think About the Cover?
You know something, I like it even though I can't pinpoint exactly why I do. I don't think it particularly represents the story all that well, and I have no idea which of our women this is supposed to be, but it definitely captures my attention. It's mysterious and draws the eye and I can't find any fault in this cover.
My Rating: 3.5/5.0
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of The Evening Spider in exchange for an honest review. Continue below for more information about the author and the tour as well as how to enter to win a copy of The Evening Spider!
Buy the Book
About the Author
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.
It's Giveaway Time!!
Thanks again to TLC Book Tours I have one copy of The Evening Spider to give away today (open to US/CANADA only)!! All you have to do is enter your name and email address on the giveaway form HERE. Please be sure to leave both your name and your email on the form so I can contact you if you are my winner (no email address, no entry!). For extra entries you can follow the blog in various ways (all links are on the right hand sidebar) and leave the name/email you follow with on the form. That's it!
I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner on February 8th, 2016 and will announce the winner here as well as email the winner for their mailing address. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before I have to pick another winner. If you have already won this giveaway on another site please let me know so I can pick a new winner and give someone else a chance to win a copy.
The Evening Spider Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, January 26th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, January 27th: The Reader’s Hollow
Wednesday, January 27th: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, January 28th: A Bookworm’s World
Friday, January 29th: JulzReads
Monday, February 1st: A Literary Vacation
Tuesday, February 2nd: FictionZeal
Thursday, February 4th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Friday, February 5th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, February 8th: bookchickdi
Wednesday, February 10th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, February 11th: Book Hooked Blog
Friday, February 12th: Peeking Between the Pages