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The Haunting of Maddy Clare, by Simone St. James, won the RITA Awards this year in both Best First Novel and Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements.

The summary:

Sarah Piper's lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis-rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed with ghosts- has been summoned to investigate the spirit of nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn where she committed suicide.

Since Maddy hated men in life, it is Sarah's task to confront her in death. Soon Sarah is caught up in a deperate struggle. For Maddy's ghost is real, she's angry, and she has powers that defy all reason.

Can Sarah and Alistair's assistant, the rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, discover who Maddy was, whereshe came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance-before she destroys them all?

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books held a RITA Reader Challenge, asking readers to write reviews of all the nominated books. The review I wrote for The Haunting of Maddy Clare is here. It went up on July 19, and I forgot to link to it then, but you can read it now.

I'm not surprised it won RITAs. tt reminded me a lot of Sarah Waters' work, especially Affinity and Little Stranger. I'll be interested to see more of what Simone St. James writes.
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