Release Date: Mar 7, 2017
Imprint: William Morrow
Jess and Clare Martin sell their loft in Brooklyn so they can move to the suburbs where Jess can focus on writing his second novel. They want a fresh start for their marriage and their debts and are shocked at how expensive homes outside New York City have gotten. They end up taking jobs as caretakers of “Riven House” in the Hudson Valley. The five hundred acre estate owned by their former writing professor includes a huge, octagon shaped mansion which is in badly need of repair. The worst part of Jess and Clare’s new home, however, isn’t the condition of the house but the sense that this house doesn’t want to see any of its residents living happily ever after.
Carol Goodman has a long list of writing credits, but this is the first book I’ve read by the author. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really enjoyed the book. It starts out like a fairly straightforward story of a couple going through common struggles of money problems and jealousy, although with a strong sense of foreboding even from the beginning. Jess is portrayed as a talented but moody man with an eye for attractive women. Clare seems like a devoted, hard-working wife at first, but as the book goes on, the reader isn’t sure if Clare’s version of events is true or if she is simply insecure and paranoid. She sometimes appears very petty and Jess can come across like a jerk, but I cared about the characters even though I didn’t always like them.
It seems unbelievable that Jess and Clare didn’t see what was happening to them the longer they stayed at Riven House and get out. However, even though people had warned Clare from the beginning not to stay at Riven House, she feels she has finally found a place she belongs. She holds onto the belief that the house is good for her and for Jess’s writing career, even when she starts hearing non-existent babies crying in the night and seeing apparitions of women in the fog on the estate. At times, she even doubts her own sanity, but still feels drawn to the house even when tragedy strikes on the estate. By the end, the reader is in the same situation as Clare, not knowing what’s real and which version of events is the truth. Readers who enjoyed Wendy Webb’s The Vanishing or Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood will enjoy this gothic, psychological suspense novel. The Widow’s House is intriguing, dark, and sometimes strange, but this chilling novel is consistently suspenseful from beginning to end.