The Haunting in New York (The Sun Down Motel – A Book Review)

The Sun Down Motel

Author: Simone St. James

Published: 2020

On Goodreads

My Rating:

Rated S for spooky suspense and the slow burn to uncover a lady killer.

It was November 29, 1982, 11:24 p.m.

By three o’clock in the morning, Viv Delaney had vanished.

That was the beginning.

In 1982, Viv had run away from home with the intention to go to New York. Instead, she wound up in Fell at the Sun Down Motel as its night clerk. It was the perfect place to disappear. But it’s not long before the lights start flickering, doors start opening, and she’s hearing voices calling out to her. Spookier still, she discovers there’s a serial killer on the loose that’s killed multiple women over the last decade and she may be next.

In 2017, Carly comes to Fell in search of her aunt who disappeared. She finds an even deeper connection to the past as she digs up secrets on the Sun Down Motel as she works as the night clerk, just as her aunt did. She uncovers that it’s more than just her job that ties her to her aunt but its mysteries, too.

The first thing you have to know-and it’s important (to me)-is that this book wasn’t horrible. In fact, it was the opposite. This was a fantastic read and impeccably written. However, that didn’t stop me from struggling so hard. I didn’t finish this one as fast as I usually do the average-sized novel. I kept falling asleep. LOL. I don’t kid when I say that mystery puts me to sleep. It happened so many times as I read this and because of that, it took forever to finish. Not even the supernatural element was enough in this book.


The writing style stood out the most. The two timelines were so beautifully interwoven. From the familial tie between Viv and Carly to the history and the ghosts that still floated around the motel. It was an incredible dynamic and one of my favorite things about the book. It created a longing for me to keep going and see how they collided. But…yep, I have one. The writing itself came across wooden and stiff and point-blank. With a seeming lack of emotion and anticipation.

The imagery was stunning. Incredibly on point, like I was there. Chills and thrills crept across my skin and gave me some heavy goosies. Just outstanding. James has a knack for detail and doesn’t let it go to waste. From the ghosts to the motel’s architecture.


The ghosts were legit! I say that as somebody who’s had a few encounters. I got the wigs each time the spookies came out to visit Viv or Carly. James brought some epic realness to the supernatural element of the book. And you know what? This book could really be added to The Haunting collection by Mike Flannagan on Netflix. It’s a must. It would fit in so perfectly.

The way both Viv and Carly seemed to be searching for their place in the world and to find it in Fell was intriguing. It was like a string of fate. This was definitely one of the strongest parts of the book. Viv wanted a life of her own. Carly wanted to know all of her secrets and if she was truly dead. The fact that each of their journeys gave them an opportunity to figure out what life they wanted to lead.

Wiffle Gif

Both the living and non-living characters of the book were unique and stood out. Every single one. Each one was memorable and remained as such until the very end. I’m not used to that and really enjoyed it. Side characters typically disappear from my brain as fast as they leave the page. But that wasn’t the case here. Each one was as intricate and as important as any main character.


Really good. I highly recommend it for those who love mysteries and those who love a good ghost story. This was splendid, just not totally up my alley. I don’t regret reading it for a minute. Totally worth it even though it did take longer than expected.


“Some of us like the dark. It’s what we know.” (Heather, p. 47)

“I am hunting the hunter, and he suspects it. The game is on.” (Viv, p. 152)

“I could disappear. Become one of the ghosts here. No one would ever know.” (p. 175)

More to come soon…                                                                                               


Song Today? Put the Radio On by Lana Del Rey.

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