Summary and book reviews of The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel

by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James X
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2020, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2020, 352 pages

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About this Book

Book Summary

Something hasn't been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, NY. But something isn't right at the motel, something haunting and scary. 

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and to visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

Fell, New York
November 1982

Viv

The night it all ended, Vivian was alone.

That was fine with her. She preferred it. It was something she'd discovered, working the night shift at this place in the middle of nowhere: Being with people was easy, but being alone was hard. Especially being alone in the dark. The person who could be truly alone, in the company of no one but oneself and one's own thoughts-that person was stronger than anyone else. More ready. More prepared.

Still, she pulled into the parking lot of the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York, and paused, feeling the familiar beat of fear. She sat in her beat-up Cavalier, the key in the ignition, the heat and the radio on, her coat huddled around her shoulders. She looked at the glowing blue and yellow sign, the two stories of rooms in two long stripes in the shape of an L, and thought, I don't want to go in there. But I will. She was ready, but she was still afraid. It was 10:59 p.m.

She felt like crying. She felt like screaming. She...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Why do you think the author chose to tell this story across two time periods and two points of view? Do you think it was effective? Why or why not?
  2. Discuss how each of the victims were described in the media. Do you think the way the media characterized these women played a role in the overall investigation—and the failure by the police to catch the killer? How does their characterization compare to how victims are described by the media today?
  3. From the beginning, Viv is determined to uncover who the female ghost is and why she's haunting the motel. Why do you think this was so important to her? Why do you think she didn't just flee Fell, New York, and the motel?
  4. Viv, Carly, and Heather all have a somewhat morbid curiosity ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Ghostly, creepy, supernatural with a mystery thrown in...all the good stuff you have come to expect from a great Simone St. James book (Teresa L)! Creepy, scary, intense, gripping....I can go on and on. Simone St. James is one of my favorite authors anyway, but this time she has gone to a new level (Carole P)...continued

Full Review Members Only (614 words).

(Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Media Reviews

PopSugar
There are very few novels that leave me feeling genuinely spooked....Simone St. James's The Sun Down Motel is very much one of those books, taking twists and turns that are equal parts compelling and creepy.

Minneapolis Star Tribune
When are we too old for ghost stories? As long as they are as taut and twisty as Simone St. James' latest novel, make that never....Readers of this thoroughly entertaining thriller won't be disappointed.

Publishers Weekly
Though the story's spectral aspects may strike some as heavy-handed, there's no doubt about the shocking, satisfying denouement. Horror fans will also want to check this one out.

Booklist (starred review)
[A] truly nightmarish trip back and forth in time and into the supernatural...guaranteed to keep readers rapt...What a story!

Author Blurb Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Lock Every Door
Deliciously creepy. A chilling blend of mystery and ghost story that will thrill fans of both.

Author Blurb Jamie Mason, author of The Hidden Things
Simone St. James takes danger and fear to a new level with The Sun Down Motel, a place so chocked full of secrets, the rooms all but tremble at their door hinges. An excellent blend of mystery and the mysterious. Don't miss this.

Author Blurb Jennifer Hillier, author of Jar of Hearts, ITW Thriller Award winner for Best Novel
Spooky, unsettling, and brilliantly written, The Sun Down Motel is mesmerizing from the first page. A breathlessly suspenseful supernatural mystery that will hook you early, and never let go.

Reader Reviews

Amy P

Well written and very creepy!
This was my first time reading this author, and I was not disappointed. The dual time line between Viv in 1982 and Carly in 2017 was well defined with the chapter headings, though there was enough similarity (& overlap) in the characters and the ...   Read More

mary

Great! Suspenseful!
I was in the mood for a good suspense book. This book didn’t disappoint! The story has lots of twists and turns. Unlike most suspense or mysteries, it doesn’t take you all the way to the end and ta da, mystery solved! The different layers are ...   Read More

Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

Excellent - don't miss reading this book
Carly left college for a "few" days so she could head to Fell, New York, to see if she could find anything out about how her Aunt Viv died or where she might be. Viv disappeared from The Sun Down Motel where she worked in 1982 and was ...   Read More

Sandy P. (Ashburn, VA)

I ❤️ Creepy Motels!
Are creepy motels, the '80's , and ghosts your thing? Then this is the book for you! I truly loved this story. It's been a long time since a book has given me the heebie jeebies, but this one did. The creepy motel setting, perfect. Supernatural ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The American Roadside Motel

Palms Motel in Portland, Oregon In Simone St. James' thriller The Sun Down Motel, a roadside motel in upstate New York serves as the location for a ghost story that takes place in alternating timelines occurring in the years 1982 and 2017. It's hardly surprising that the author would place a motel at the center of this spooky suspense novel, as motels have something of a reputation for harboring unsavory elements. However, America's relationship with the motel is a storied and complex one. Whether they are seen as evoking the romance of the open road or as creepy and undesirable, roadside motels hold an iconic place in the American imagination.

Motels were preceded by "auto camps," or large areas (sometimes located in national parks) where motorists could park and ...

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