Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels

(No Series)

It begins as a lark -- a harmless diversion initiated by Washington, D.C., hostess Ruth Bennett as a means of entertaining her visiting niece, Sara. But the séance conducted in Ruth's elegant Georgetown home calls something back; something unwelcome ... and palpably evil. Suddenly Sara is speaking in a voice not her own, transformed into a miserable, whimpering creature so unlike her normal, sensible self. No tricks or talismans will dispel the malevolence that now plagues the inhabitants of this haunted place -- until a dark history of treachery, lust, and violence is exposed. But the cost might well be the sanity and the lives of the living.

The ghost story is solid, although I'm only rating it a three stars for overall enjoyment.

Ammie, Come Home is one of Barbara Michael's most liked and popular ghost mysteries. Ruth lives in a historical home in Georgetown, and has never been bothered by hauntings...until now, that is. The reasons for the hauntings showing up now rather than earlier is part of the mystery.

It's refreshing that Michaels doesn't only stick to young, perky characters to lead her books. Ruth is a forty-something year old woman with a bad divorce in her history, and the male lead is a fifty-year old something wearied teacher. Together they make a unique couple, and I think that Michaels put in some of the anticipation of romance/relationships more convincingly than some of her other stuff. Usually she doesn't have any making out type scenes, but she inched towards that line this time.

Her niece and boyfriend bring forth interesting complimentary characters - as is a usual trope with Michaels, you have two skeptics arguing, one young and more open minded with views, one older and a bit condescending of the other younger generation. Even if she uses this stereotypical pairing often, it always works as a good sounding board and a way to bring in different tensions for the haunting.

The supernatural element is high and I enjoyed the history and background for the 'ghosts', as well as the solving. Fans of hauntings and the paranormal should get a kick out of the story, although be warned this isn't meant to be horror-toned at all. Rich in atmosphere - both old day and new - Michaels weaves a potent spell of feeling the scenes when the ghosts appear and understanding the background of the haunting.

I think it's a little lackluster because it seems to be missing some of the urgency of some of her other novels, so pacing lags a bit. Also, while I always loved Michaels unique writing voice, here the sedateness of her tone is emphasized by story-line.

   Book Quotes:

'I wonder how many of the great heroes of history would turn out to be a slow runner, if you ever investigated the circumstances.”

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