!! may contain spoilers. read at your own risk !!
The Empty Room
by Sarah J. Clemens
Genre: Psychological Suspense, Thriller, Mystery
Publication Date: 23 July 2016
Rain soaked and dreary, it was a 1901 abandoned Victorian that newlyweds Dean and Elizabeth Montgomery hoped would fulfill their dreams of a new start in life, even if the town of Eastbrook, Maine was nestled under a constant blanket of fog.
The first neighbor the couple meets dashes those hopes when he raises a bizarre question: what happened to the last person who lived in their house? A cryptic question, but nothing to worry about. At least not until the couple looked under the floorboards inside the house.
Under mounting pressure from the residents of Eastbrook to stop questioning the past, Dean and Elizabeth are driven deeper into the history of the house, the town, and their neighbors. When the couple discovers what happened in Eastbrook, keeping the secret could save their lives, but uncovering the truth might be worth the risk.
What happened inside The Empty Room is a mystery until the last page. A gripping psychological suspense, the story takes readers on a cat-and-mouse game where some secrets are better off hidden.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this short read that was barely 140 pages on the PDF file I received but I certainly did not expect fell so shOOK from the ending alone.
The prologue was really more of a history lesson than anything else. It started off with a brief introductory paragraph to the small town of Eastbrook and then quickly moved on to talk about Dean’s and Elizabeth’s background, leaving me to wonder whether I was reading a Wikipedia page or an autobiography. I even thought I had accidentally picked up a historical fiction by accident but with names like Dean MONTGOMERY and Elizabeth GEORGIAN it was really hard not to.
Even though the prologue and I got off on a wrong foot, it wasn’t hard for me to become immersed in the story. This was mainly due to the main characters, Dean and Elizabeth, whom I found to be easily likeable. Despite the impression their detached introduction in the prologue gave me, I quickly fell in love with them the moment they opened their mouths. Their friendly bickering is a sight I feel that is not commonly seen in mystery/thriller stories (must everyone be so uptight and intENSE????).
The story, however, is rather passive. For the most of the book, nothing really progresses, and then at the last 15 pages, all the explanations are dumped on you (it’s kinda overwhelming tbh but it will shaKE YOU UP SO MUCH…). The fact that the Eastbrook residents were uncooperative and shunned away from any form of contact with Dean and Elizabeth contributed somewhat to this, but Dean and Elizabeth also lacked the burning desire to uncover the truth behind their newly purchased house. Honestly tho, they came to Eastbrook seeking a peaceful life away from the hustle and bustle of the city so their initial reluctance to look further into the mysteries surrounding their house was understandable.
The ending was good in the sense that it was different, it was unexpected and it left me feeling like a trainwreck. By then, I had already realised that this book had absolutely nothing to do with the supernatural but… ghosts don’t exist only on the physical plane. Though it would be nice to have a more stretched out explanation (give us time to digest pls) or a less cultish ending (what’s the deal of all the residents coming together?? it was… so creepy I honestly thought they were gonna mob the main characters).
Sarah J. Clemens is the author of the debut mystery novel, The Empty Room. She started writing The Empty Room in 2008 and formed her own imprint in 2016 called Off the Page Publishing.
She started out her professional career working as a news assistant for her local newspaper before finding a passion for the law and pursued an education in criminal justice. In addition to writing fiction, she is also a legal assistant with an Associate of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Human Services.
Sarah was born in California and now lives and works in Boise, Idaho. She has the same sarcastic sense of humor as the characters in her books, and she has an unparalleled love for animals.
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