Plagued by dreams of her dead father, Katrina Nielsen returns to her native Denmark to face the ghosts of her past. After seven years in New York, sidelined by a career-ending injury, Katrina is determined to reunite her shattered family. But when she and her American husband, Richard, purchase Sound House, an ordinary-looking home overlooking the water, a series of weird events begins: inexplicable smoke and footsteps, a ghostly face at the window. After she is “pushed” down the cellar stairs by an unseen force, her charming (if slightly creepy) neighbor, Søren, convinces her that she is being haunted by the ghost of Karl Damsgaard, the original owner of Sound House. As the terrifying disturbances escalate, the desperate couple puts their faith in Rowena, a flamboyant psychic – which leads to the book’s tragic conclusion. Inspired by actual events, Shadows in Summer is a deliciously scalp-prickling tale that will haunt readers long after the final page.
I thought Shadows in Summer was an excellent ghost story that somehow managed to feel quite gothic despite taking place during the Clinton era. It had all the trappings of a traditional ghost story...things that go bump in the night, mysterious shadows, objects being moved and a juicy history that spanned three generations.
Being described as a novel told in six voices, I was afraid it would be hard to keep track of who was who and what was going on, but there were only a couple of times I found it difficult to switch perspectives and that was when chapters would switch between Katrina and her mother. Otherwise, the six different points of view weren't a problem at all.
Varrone did an excellent job with the setting. I didn't know much about Denmark before going into this book, but his descriptions were detailed and fascinating and I found myself looking up places online to see if they really exist (they do!) He also wove a bit of the country's history into the story, especially its role during World War II (events from this era play a role in the story and in the perceptions of some of its characters.)
The ghostly occurrences start early in the book and their effect on Katrina builds slowly as the reader is left wondering about the true nature of what she is going through. Is their house indeed haunted? Is it all in her mind? Does the "slightly creepy" neighbor have anything to do with what is going on?
This is a thinking person's ghost story. And by that I mean it 's not one of those filled with in your face frights, it's more subtle than that. There are dinner parties, details, and discussions but they are interesting. And just when you think you have everything figured out, Varrone manages to pull out a couple of surprises.
If you think you might be interested in this book I HIGHLY recommend you check out the website here You can read the first chapter and also check out pictures of some key places in the book.