Book Reviews

Review: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.
Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

Title: The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Publisher: Berkley
Format: E-ARC
Publication Date: February 18th, 2020
Rating: 3.4//5

When it comes to thrillers, I’m extremely picky. If I can see the twist coming immediately (i.e. Gone Girl), I automatically dislike the book. But if I don’t see any of it coming, I also get pissed.

The Sun Down Motel was a weird mix of the two – some “twists” were obvious, and others seemed to be placed there as an after-thought by the author to help tie elements of the story together.

Let’s start off with our characters:

Carly – our present day MC who adds absolutely nothing to the plot of this book. Carly likes morbid things, dropping out of college, and being stupid and reckless. I truly think I would’ve given this book 5 stars if Carly wasn’t in it.

Viv – our 35 years in the past MC. Viv was a young, naive girl who just wanted to be anywhere but home. She works at the Sun Down Motel and things get…spooky at night. But then one night she goes missing without a trace – and 35 years later no one knows what happened to her.

Here’s my problem with Carly’s character, the book pretty much went like this:

Viv Chapter: Another night at the Motel. Tonight I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Carly Chapter: I discovered that sometimes, Aunt Viv would eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while she was at work.

That contributes nothing to the overall book. I think the mystery of what happened to Viv could’ve easily been told my a third-person, not present, narrator. All Carly did was rehash things I already knew, or discover something that Viv was going to tell me in the next chapter anyway.

But let’s get to the actual plot part! (well Viv’s plot, Carly’s plot is pretending she’s part of the Mystery Gang). I really loved the mystery of the Sun Down Motel. It was spooky, run-down place that really should’ve been condemned ages ago. During the day its your regular, cheap motel, but at night, things start to go bump in the dark.

The paranormal aspect of this book was intriguing, but I still have so many questions. Is the paranormal limited to just the Sun Down? Or are there similar phenomenons all over the world? Can everyone experience these things? Or do you have to be connected somehow?

I need my ghost stories to explain why there are ghosts dammit.

I did love the town of Fell though, it was small and charming and quirky. I liked that the town had such a long and documented history, that it was slow on becoming modern, and just, everything. Its the type of small town that I would love to spend a week in (thats my limit though, I’m a big city girl).

There were also a lot of side characters, from love interests, police, roommates, and more. A lot of them are forgettable but I absolutely loved Heather. Heather was the most realistic character in the book. She was a little weird, but also rather down to earth. She had her ups and downs, anxiety, her hobbies, and just everything that I love in a character. I wish there was so much more of her.

As for the end…I liked all the action, the plot twists (even the predictable ones), and how different elements of the story came together. But everything was just a little bit too tidy. Other than my full explanation of where the ghosts come from, every other plot element was neatly wrapped up with a little bow – not a single thing left to readers imagination. I know some people enjoy stories that end like this, but I’m not the biggest fan. I want to dream about the ending of SOMETHING – whether its the mystery, the romance, or another random subplot, I don’t need to know it all.

Overall though, it was a fast-paced, interesting read. Am I glad I read it? Yes. Will I be raving about this book from the rooftops? Not a chance.

The Sun Down Motel is officially on sale TODAY. So go grab yourself a copy.

*thank you NetGalley for the E-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s