Audiobook Review: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Penguin Audio (February 18, 2020)
Length: 11 hrs
Narrators: Brittany Pressley, Kirsten Potter
I’ve had a really good run of thriller audiobooks lately, and the most recent one to blow my mind is the highly anticipated The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James, which I can tell you right now is worth all the hype. This book robbed me of a good night’s sleep because I stayed up late to finish it, and then I spent more time lying awake thinking about it some more. It had that way of getting under your skin.
Thirty-five years ago, a young woman named Viv Delaney went missing from the small, dwindling town of Fell, New York. She was a night clerk working at the local Sun Down Motel, a seedy establishment where somehow persisted while other businesses closed down or moved away, when one day she failed to show up for work. Her disappearance was widely reported in the news at the time, as she was not the first woman to have vanished or met a tragic end in Fell. In spite of this, no trace of Viv was ever found, and with the town’s reluctance to talk about its missing girls, her case was soon forgotten. Until now.
Fast forward to today, college student Carly Kirk has put her studies on hold because she wanted to know the truth about Viv Delaney—her aunt. Desperate to find out more about the tragedy that so affected her mother’s life, Carly moves to Fell and, surprising even herself, decides to answer a job posting for a night shift position at the Sun Down Motel. As ghoulish as it may seem, the chance to have this one connection with her aunt was too hard to resist, and Carly also hopes that being in the place where Viv worked before she disappeared would help shake loose some answers. Soon enough though, it’s clear there’s something not quite right with the motel. For one thing, not all its guests are alive.
Told via two timelines, the story alternate between Viv and Carly’s perspectives, gradually filling in the missing pieces of the puzzle. I know that descriptions like “page-turner” have been repeated to death, but in this case, it is very true and appropriate. I’m not always a fan of multiple timelines as you might know, so I was surprised how quickly I took to The Sun Down Motel. All credit goes to the author, who was able to create such an intense, dynamic atmosphere that wouldn’t let up. It was the perfect blend of mystery and spoooooooky…
I won’t say much more about the plot because that would be spoiling the fun, but I will talk a bit about the two POV characters, who are both so well written. Viv especially surprised me. Introduced at the start of the book as the young woman who goes missing, even as the horrible scenarios started swirling around my brain about what might have happened, Viv’s chapters swiftly showed me my mistake of assuming she’s just another unfortunate victim. Both she and Carly are truth seekers trying to find answers, and while their goals are very different and separated by more than three decades, in the end, each thread leads to a stunning finale. Usually when a book has duo perspectives like this, I tend to gravitate towards one, preferring it over the other. But in this case, I really can’t decide whose timeline I enjoyed reading more, they were both fantastic.
Finally, if you like a touch of the paranormal in your mystery-thrillers, then this one’s for you! On the flip side, if you prefer them to be more realistic and grounded, then you might not take as well to the fantastical aspects and ghostly business, though I personally loved how these added a horror element to the story.
So yeah, in case you can’t tell, I loved this book. it. It always kills me to write reviews for thrillers I really enjoyed, because most of the time I can’t talk about the things in it that I liked without ruining the plot. But just take it from me, this was a great read and I would highly recommend it. And also, this gets the full five starsbecause I listened to the audio, which was absolutely brilliant, with fantastic performances by narrators Brittany Pressley and Kirsten Potter. I’ll be keeping my eye out for audiobooks narrated by them in the future, and also for more books by Simone St. James.