Close to Home
A restless spirit haunts the halls of a decrepit mansion perched on a promontory high above the Columbia River. She seems to be searching for closure. According to family legend, Sarah Stewart McAdams’s ancestor plunged to her death from the roof of Blue Peacock Manor over a hundred years ago. Since then, the house has seen more than its fair share of tragedy and an uncommon number of deaths. Several generations of Stewarts have passed through its halls, but in recent years it has stood empty.
"With the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge as a backdrop, Lisa Jackson’s latest solo effort is set in the midst of a rugged beauty as perfect for rekindling old romances as it is for hiding predators and stalkers."
Now Sarah, a single mother of two, wants to give the old place a much-needed facelift and, in doing so, give herself a welcome fresh start. Unfortunately, her daughters, Gracie and Jade, aren’t on the same page as she is. Jade is a moping teenager with a bad attitude, hating her life and most of the people in it. The sole exception might be Cody, her boyfriend from whom her mother has dragged her away to live here in Stewart Crossing, an awful town in the middle of nowhere. Jade’s younger sister, Gracie, a naturally curious preteen, is far more impressionable and has what some might call a sixth sense, one that involves a heightened awareness and a deepened empathy. Here in their new home, Gracie insists she has seen the ghost of Angelique Le Duc, the first lady of Blue Peacock Manor. Of course, this elicits dramatic eye rolls from her sister and a touch of skepticism from her mother. But Gracie becomes obsessed with helping Angelique’s spirit “move on.”
As if her daughters’ unsettling dispositions weren’t enough, Sarah has to face Clint Walsh, owner of the neighboring property and a man who was once her lover. Even the idea of running into him makes her as nervous as a schoolgirl. Why did she think moving back to her home town might be a good idea? Rather than set things right, as she had hoped, everything seems to be unraveling. Then, when local girls start to go missing, Sarah begins to seriously re-evaluate her decision to return to Stewart Crossing. But those repressed memories remain just beyond her grasp. She must fill in the gaps, or she believes she’ll go mad.
With the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge as a backdrop, Lisa Jackson’s latest solo effort is set in the midst of a rugged beauty as perfect for rekindling old romances as it is for hiding predators and stalkers. And the weather, ranging from magnificent blue skies to swirling fog to drizzling rain and howling wind, can change a mood in an instant --- from serene contentment to eye-popping fear. The dense forests of towering firs and leafy ferns can as easily hide a spirit trying to pass between worlds as they can hide a murderer trying to elude the law. It isn’t hard to imagine that, behind every tree, evil lurks, because in Stewart Crossing, it just may. There are bad things happening there that will send chills down your spine. Really, who doesn’t love a ghost story?
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on September 5, 2014