Thursday, January 5, 2012
The Wedding Gift- Review
Author: Kathleen McKenna
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.
I am almost at a loss about what to say. This book sounded like it was going to be a perfect book for me- a haunted huge mansion in the south. Unfortunately, it did not read like this at all, and feel it was misrepresented. In fact, if it had been advertised as it actually is, then maybe I would have liked it better, rather than reading something that was not what I expected.
The book takes place in Dalton, Oklahoma, which in my mind is a western/midwest state, not southern. I could be wrong, but when someone says a book is set in the south, I do not think Oklahoma. The narrator is so unlikeable - she is shallow, vain, adulterous, and drinks and does drugs while she is pregnant. She is a 17 year old beauty pageant winner who sleeps with an older, rich man and gets pregnant. She never really liked him, calls him fat all the time, and when she loses the baby on their wedding day, she still stays in the marriage. Her husband George may actually love her, or just may love the idea that he is married to a beauty queen, who knows, the reader only sees him through the eyes of Leeann. Her friend Jess seems to be the only character who has any character, and she doesn't like George. To me, this seems like he is an idiot. George moves Leeann into the Willet mansion, despite the history of the house.
The Willet house is haunted - the last people to live their died in a murder/suicide, committed by the wife Robina. She is said to have killed her five children and her husband, then herself. With a butter knife, hacking off limbs with a butter knife. This makes no sense to me. Leeann's brother actually died there years later, after visiting it on a dare with his best friend Donny, who incidentally Leeann has been in love with her whole life. Leeann balks at moving in, yet agrees when George tells her there is a pool she can tan around with her friends.
After they move in, Leeann sees the ghost of Robina, and is haunted by her. Robina keeps trying to show Leeann something, but Leeann won't go. After one particularly scary night, Leeann flees the house at dawn in her nightgown, and arrives at her parents. When her father goes to talk to George, he discovers George dead, with his eyes removed and arms cut off. Leeann is accused of murder. And wouldn't you know it, she does have a motive if anyone finds out she slept with Donny the day she got home from her honeymoon (which she took with her friend Jess and not George), in bright daylight where anyone could see. Of course, no one finds out who would tell, and Jess is let out of prison. She decides to go back to the house to see what Robina wanted to show her, and Robina shows her what really happened the bloody night her family died. I won't reveal that, but that was the only good part of the book, finding out what really happened. I also won't tell you how the book ends. It was actually pretty good. Other than the terrible main character, who is completely unsympathetic.
If you read this thinking you are going to get a southern ghost story- move on. If you want a slightly humorous, campy tale of the life of a 17 year old beauty queen in Oklahoma, then this book is for you. I think if the book were proposed correctly, and Leeann more likeable, this book would not be bad. It is well written, and the backstory isn't that bad.