Summoned by the news of her dying father, Isabel Delilah Jones escapes from New York City, broken hearted and disillusioned, back to her small Mississippi town. She is welcomed smack dab into a bizarre inheritance, a complex war for her affection between two former best friends, a dire haunting from an unknown child, and a deadly mystery that only she can solve.
Yonder is the perfect Southern treat for fans of tangled romance, spooky mysteries and down home cooking. Taking place in the 1940’s on the cusp of World War II, Yonder promises a lovely glimpse of an era that was all too short.
I saved this book for weeks, specially for Christmas Eve as I knew that I would have the right amount of time and mood to fully enjoy it. The wait very nearly killed me and I did almost give in a few times but I’m so glad I waited.
I read LeeAnne Hansen’s first book Ghost Light earlier this year and it made quite an impression on me, she has a gift for capturing the atmosphere and surroundings for ghost stories and keeping the suspense going all the way to the end.
My favourite thing about LeeAnne’s books however is her characters, you can tell that she knows each one inside and out. She shares this knowledge and fondness with you and you can intensely feel everything her characters do throughout – there’s never a single character you completely dislike because they’ve been created with so much empathy that you can see the light in them even when they do terrible things.
In this story, Isabel receives a phonecall from a literal ghost from her past, telling her to return to her childhood home. Shortly after she gets there, her estranged father dies and she stays in her brother’s absence for the reading of the will, catching up with her childhood friends.
Hansen sets the scene with great charm and detail, you get a very strong feeling for the Southern Mississippi town that Isabel grew up in – I’ve watched enough True Blood to know authentic Southern hospitality when I see/read it (Alan Ball would never lie to me, right?).
When Isabel gets back home, she reacquaints herself with her two best friends growing up, Benjamin and Charles, and finds herself in the middle of an intense love triangle. Dare I say it, I actually loved the romantic aspect of this book, even though I’m not usually a fan of the soppy the haunting provides a perfect counterbalance. While Isabel tries to decide which one of the boys to give her heart to, strange things start going bump in the night (so to speak) in her house until it all finally reaches a dramatic climax.
The last 20% of the book – best thing about Kindles is that you know how much you have left! – had me sitting bolt upright and forgetting to blink so that I could stuff it all in my brain as quickly as possible.
The author doesn’t travel the same worn paths as your typical ghost stories so they keep you guessing right until the very end – I absolutely love this as you do find cliches do start getting a bit worn when you’re constantly reading books within the same genre. I was overjoyed to learn while reading this book that it’s the first in a series and the second one will be written from the perspective of another major character.
It goes without saying that this book gets 5 stars, I can’t recommend it enough but if you want to do it properly like I did, you will require the following:
1) Dim lighting, good enough to read by
2) A huge selection box of Thorntons chocolates
3) A mason jar full of Disaronno and Coke (refillable)
4) A nest of 3 duvets and a gazillion pillows
5) The comfiest PJs you own
6) A few undisturbed hours
‘They stood silently and watched the pair vanish into the yonder.’ – LeeAnne Hansen, Yonder: A Southern Haunting