Book Review – The Haunting of Brynn Wilder by Wendy Webb

First published, 2020

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Having nursed her mother through the final stages of cancer, middle-aged teacher Brynn takes herself off to the tourist town of Wharton, on Lake Superior, to give herself a much-needed rest and the space she needs to deal with her grief.

Arriving at a local guesthouse – which is decorated in a mish-mash of different styles, from different eras – Brynn meets adorable gay couple, Jason and Gil, lovable, leggings-clad landlady, LuAnn, and heavily-tattooed, impossibly handsome, “Illustrated Man”, Dominic.

Half the population of the lakeside getaway are in love with Dominic, with his imposing shoulders and mighty chest, but the local chief of police remains suspicious of the man whom death itself seems to follow.

From her arrival at the guesthouse, Brynn struggles with powerful dreams of different times, and the shadows and ghosts of what once was. The haunted nature of the guesthouse is a selling-point no one seems to have bothered to tell her about. But when Brynn meets Jason’s charming but desperately sad ex-wife, Alice, the visions – and the strange things that Alice says to her, make Brynn wonder what’s really going on – and whether or not even Dominic can save her…

Although there are strong ghost story elements in this novel (which was what drew me to it in the first place), The Haunting of Brynn Wilder is more love story than anything else.

The scary parts are chilling, however, the author has a few literary ticks which I found distracting:
every few pages, the main character “winced”;
regularly, feelings enveloped her “from the inside out”;
I began to worry for the protagonist the third time she released a breath she didn’t know she was holding;
and, in what is a very emotionally charged story, the tears “stung the backs of (her) eyes” basically throughout.

However, the conclusion inside room number five (I won’t say more than that because – spoilers) was dramatic and unexpected. It gave me a lot to think about.

An intriguing read, but not as gothic as I’d hoped for.