Helen and Nate have decided to fulfill a dream–they’re going to build a house from the ground up with their own hands on a piece of land they’ve purchased in a tiny town in Vermont. Soon they learn that their land once belonged to a woman named Hattie back in the early 1900’s. Hattie was feared by the townspeople, so much so that they hanged her as a witch right on the property.
Helen, a history teacher, is fascinated by the story, and decides to learn more. And the more she uncovers the more obsessed she becomes with Hattie and her secrets. She even begins collecting objects for her house that are connected to Hattie, in hopes that she might conjure up some spirits.
The spirit of Hattie and her female relatives thread all through the story. As one character puts it, there’s magic in their veins. As always, though, McMahon has a pretty light touch with the supernatural and spooky elements–it’s there, but the focus really is on the all-too-human characters. She populates this small Vermont town with recognizable people, both past and present.
McMahon’s writing is incredibly vivid, and very rich in detail. You don’t want to miss a well-crafted sentence when you’re reading her books, and her scene-setting is amazing. The mystery she crafts in The Invited is compelling, too, just as much as the spooky scenes out in the bog.
The Invited is a different kind of haunted house story. If you liked The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, give this a look!