Author: Jennifer McMahon
Release Date: June 16, 2009
Rating: 4 out of 5
From the publisher’s website:
Henry, Tess, Winnie, and Suz banded together in college to form a group they called the Compassionate Dismantlers. Following the first rule of their manifesto—”To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart”—these daring misfits spend the summer after graduation in a remote cabin in the Vermont woods committing acts of meaningful vandalism and plotting elaborate, often dangerous, pranks.
Nearly a decade later, Henry and Tess are living just an hour’s drive from the old cabin. Each is desperate to move on from the summer of the Dismantlers, but their guilt isn’t ready to let them go. When a victim of their past pranks commits suicide—apparently triggered by a mysterious Dismantler-style postcard—it sets off a chain of eerie events that threatens to engulf Henry, Tess, and their inquisitive nine-year-old daughter, Emma.
Jennifer McMahon is the master of the modern day ghost story. She manages to write haunting books that resonate with readers. There is always a sense of unease, a lingering feeling that something is not quite right. In a lot of ways, her books give readers chills because of the unique quality of her writing. She has a talent at setting a mood with her words, as she expertly demonstrates once again in Dismantled.
Emma is an engaging nine-year-old, written true to life. Like a real child, sometimes her inquisitiveness and precociousness are irritating; other times, they are completely disconcerting. Sometimes she seems too old and wise for her age, and at other times, she seems very young. To put it simply, she is a complete enigma, which is perfect for a story such as this.
The real creepiness of Dismantled lies in the question of whether it is a ghost story or not. What is happening? Is there actually a malevolent presence communicating with Emma, or is she just being mischievous? Every time the reader is about to make a decision on this question, new information is revealed that makes the reader question his or her judgment. McMahon has a way of making her readers very uneasy.
I definitely enjoyed Dismantled, though I found it different from Promise Not to Tell. Because it is longer, the story is more drawn out; in some ways, it is more ambiguous, more vague. I definitely recommend it to any mystery/ghost story fans!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book to review!