It is a spine-electrifying supernatural tale where a huge Southern States mansion contains one of the most terrifying, violent and indeed psychopathic ghosts to haunt any town. It is also a murder mystery – why did Robina Willets apparently kill all five of her young children, and her husband, before stabbing herself to death? And, if you are in the camp of believing that ‘justice …. just is not’, then this will have you frothing at the mouth with righteous social fury. Add to that the vision of two exceptionally beautiful girls lying on a landing stage in the middle of a secluded lake, sleeping naked in the sun …. …. and then see if you can find any consecutive ten minutes in this book when you don’t at least snicker at the heroine Leeann’s sly, caustic, sometimes-knowing sometimes ‘too stupid to live’ commentary.
This blurb came from Goodreads.
The introduction to this story comes in the form of media clippings. I liked that technique of providing snapshots of key past history as seen through the eyes of reporters. What the reporters thought was important and knowing that some parts would be sensationalized or sanitized depending on which way they happened to be leaning at the time certainly helped bring me into the story. Then I met, who in a romance would be the heroine but here was more of a narrator, Leeann. I am still not sure what I think about her.
As a person I didn’t like Leeann and when I was reading this with the mindset that it was a romance with supernatural elements I almost DNF’d it due to something that she did. Those of you who follow me on Twitter might have caught reference to that. But by that time I was about halfway through and I really wanted to know what really happened in the mansion. In other words my wish to know the mystery about the ghost and the murders was stronger. As I kept reading I stopped looking at The Wedding Gift as anything romantic but more of, like the blurb says, a murder mystery with supernatural elements.
I lived in the south for a while so between Leeann’s thoughts and her descriptions of actions of others I certainly picked up on the southern flavor. This book was full of family tradition, especially the kind of tradition that shows you have money. I am not talking that you can afford a nice place but I mean money like you have THE major business in town and have since that business was started generations ago. When you are in that position in a small town things tend to happen pretty much as you want them to happen except when they involve a ghost and your old family home. I really couldn’t work up much sympathy for the Willets family because of certain things they accepted and condoned but I think some of those things happen in most families that have more money then they know how to spend.
I didn’t quite expect all of the twists in the murder mystery but I did think that it wasn’t as straightforward as the media clippings made it seem. As things unfolded they also brought home that in a closed society someone knows the dirty secrets it just usually isn’t worth their while to let them out. In this case it took several people, with a strong motivation to start putting the pieces together and the vengeful ghost provided the final touches. I also liked how the novel itself closed with yet more media clippings providing a sense of closure.
After I finished The Wedding Gift I realized that while this book contains elements from genres that I read on a pretty regular basis I am not used to their combination in this particular way so this was outside of my reading comfort zone. I think if I had started reading this as a murder mystery I wouldn’t have struggled with the narrator as much. Even after having written this review I find I still have mixed feeling about it.
Ms McKenna, no I wasn’t scared reading this, BUT I don’t plan to visit any potentially haunted mansions anytime soon.
I give The Wedding Gift a C.
Links to purchase: