I’m looking forward to the month of October ending – I think I’ve exceeded my ‘being scared’ threshold.
1933, Mother Superior Agnes offers sanctuary to a desperate young woman fleeing for her life. Only to wake in the morning to discover a terrible fate has befallen one of the Sisters – in a room locked from the inside. Agnes can’t help but fear that she has allowed a great evil to enter the convent, but she has no idea how far reaching the consequences of that one fateful night will be…
Over 80 years later, Kate Parker, divorced, alcoholic, and broke, moves into the dilapidated old convent she dreams of turning into a bed and breakfast, whilst changing her life. Although the locals refuse to go near the place at night, Kate is determined to stay while the renovations take place. But when she starts to hear strange noises at night, and the crucifixes she had removed reappear on the walls, Kate starts to suspect she is not entirely alone in her new home.
As with most ‘haunted-house’ stories, the plot shouldn’t come as a surprise; Kate buys her dream house with plans to renovate it into a B&B, only to find the house is haunted and some evil spirits need exorcising. The Good Sisters left me truly unsettled, I have no fear of a paranormal thriller; ghosts, spirits, the ‘presence’ of the dead – bring it on. What I do find particularly disturbing are demonic spirits in a biblical context. With it being the month for horror, I saw this book and thought: challenge accepted… Challenge won: I read this book, however, I was disturbed and unsettled throughout the entire read so I’m not really sure who the real winner is here…
The narrative switched between the 1930’s and the presence day. On a cold day in 1933, a woman, Lilith, knocks on the door of the convent seeking refuge, Mother Superior Agnes invites her in. That was Agnes’ first mistake – Lilith is evil in every sense of the word. This narrative begins that fateful day and ends with the convent being boarded up.
In the present day, we see why the convent should have stayed boarded up. Kate has no idea of the history of the house she just bought, so when she hears footsteps upstairs and feels the presence of ‘someone else’, she must face her fears head on if she wants to stay living in the house.
I found certain parts of the story unrealistic, especially relating to Kate’s personal life, Kate being an alcoholic shouldn’t have featured in the story, I don’t think it was written in well and her interactions with her ex-husband just frustrated me, it just wasn’t believable. Also in 1933, the nuns just popped out to the cinema to see ‘The Mummy’ and they were reading ‘Dracula’ and ‘Frankenstein’, and one of the Sisters had a fascination with the female body and often wondered what it’d be like to be with another woman, this played a large role in why she became a nun. I didn’t quite know what to make of all that. This book will earn no awards for deep plot building, but to be honest, I was so caught up in being disturbed, I found this to be an enjoyable fast-paced read.
The action/horror was ongoing throughout the whole book, I really like how Phifer chose to end the story, leaving scope for a sequel. On the basis of ‘being-scared’, I would recommend this book, especially if, like me, you have an
irrational fear of demonic spirits, with the ability to manifest, sent by Lucifer himself to possess your very being and no amount of crucifixes and holy water can save you (okay, I accept, I may have been a tad bit dramatic there.) Point being, if that stuff creeps you out, this book will give you chills!
*Thank you to the author (Helen Phifer) and publisher (Carina UK) for granting me access to a digital copy of this book via Netgalley*
This book is available to pre-order from: Amazon UK (release date: 31/10/16)