The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Publication Date: 18 February 2020
Genre: Adult Fiction – Thriller with Horror/Supernatural Elements
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
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…
I don’t know what took me so long to finally read a book by Simone St. James, but I will definitely say that The Sun Down Motel has officially made a believer out of me.
The story is told from two different timelines and two different POVs. There’s Viv Delaney in 1982 and her niece Carly Kirk in 2017.
In the 1982 timeline, Viv finally left both her suffocating mother and old life behind her. With a couple of hundred dollars, she set out to start a new life in NYC. Unfortunately, she ends up in the small, run down town of Fell. Viv never planned on staying in Fell, but she shortly finds herself as the night clerk for the creepy (and haunted) Sun Down Motel as well as investigating the murder mysteries of some of the local girls. Then one day, Viv disappears without a trace and no one seems to know (or care) what happened.
In the 2017 timeline, Carly has always been curious about the disappearance of her aunt Viv, but no one spoke of it or acknowledged it. Following the death of her mom, Carly decides to put college on hold and got to Fell in order to finally get some answers. To Carly’s surprise, the night clerk position at the Sun Down Motel is available. It’s like not time has passed between 1982 and 2017. With the help of some of the locals, Carly races to find answers before darkness surrounding the Sun Down Motel threatens to engulf her the way it did her aunt.
From the beginning, the atmosphere is both chilling and desolate as soon as Viv steps foot in Fell. The Sun Down Motel itself reminds of a place that dreams go to die and you’d be absolutely out of your mind to step foot in…yet both Viv and Carly do.
While I found both women to be a bit naive, I grew to love both of their dedication to get answers to questions that no one clearly wanted to pursue. Viv completely immersed herself into the murder mysteries even though she knew that she was purposefully putting herself into harm’s way just to give the families closure. Carly, a completely relatable Gen Z, stood up to her brother to get answers surrounding her aunt even though he thought she was just wasting her time. As tension heated, I found myself rooting for them both.
It’s hard to give away any more than that without giving you the juicy bits that really make this story shine. So with that, it’s best just to go into this story blind, and sit back for this wild ride. Oh, but be warned of the dangers that lurk in the darkness…