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Music City Salvage is a family operation, owned and operated by Chuck Dutton: master stripper of doomed historic properties, and expert seller of all things old and crusty. But business is lean and times are tight, so he’s thrilled when the aged and esteemed Augusta Withrow appears in his office, bearing an offer he really ought to refuse. She has a massive family estate t Music City Salvage is a family operation, owned and operated by Chuck Dutton: master stripper of doomed historic properties, and expert seller of all things old and crusty. But business is lean and times are tight, so he’s thrilled when the aged and esteemed Augusta Withrow appears in his office, bearing an offer he really ought to refuse. She has a massive family estate to unload - lock, stock, and barrel. For a check and a handshake, it’s all his. It’s a big check. It’s a firm handshake. And it’s enough of a gold mine that he assigns his daughter Dahlia to personally oversee the project. Dahlia preps a couple of trucks, takes a small crew, and they caravan down to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the ancient Withrow house is waiting - and so is a barn, a carriage house, and a small, overgrown cemetery that Augusta Withrow left out of the paperwork. Augusta Withrow left out a lot of things. The property is in unusually great shape for a condemned building. It’s empty, but it isn't abandoned. Something in the Withrow mansion is angry and lost. This is its last chance to raise hell before the house is gone forever, and there's still plenty of room in the strange little family plot. New from Cherie Priest, a modern master of supernatural fiction, The Family Plot is a haunted house story for the ages - atmospheric, scary, and strange, with a modern gothic sensibility that every bit as fresh as it is frightening.


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Music City Salvage is a family operation, owned and operated by Chuck Dutton: master stripper of doomed historic properties, and expert seller of all things old and crusty. But business is lean and times are tight, so he’s thrilled when the aged and esteemed Augusta Withrow appears in his office, bearing an offer he really ought to refuse. She has a massive family estate t Music City Salvage is a family operation, owned and operated by Chuck Dutton: master stripper of doomed historic properties, and expert seller of all things old and crusty. But business is lean and times are tight, so he’s thrilled when the aged and esteemed Augusta Withrow appears in his office, bearing an offer he really ought to refuse. She has a massive family estate to unload - lock, stock, and barrel. For a check and a handshake, it’s all his. It’s a big check. It’s a firm handshake. And it’s enough of a gold mine that he assigns his daughter Dahlia to personally oversee the project. Dahlia preps a couple of trucks, takes a small crew, and they caravan down to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the ancient Withrow house is waiting - and so is a barn, a carriage house, and a small, overgrown cemetery that Augusta Withrow left out of the paperwork. Augusta Withrow left out a lot of things. The property is in unusually great shape for a condemned building. It’s empty, but it isn't abandoned. Something in the Withrow mansion is angry and lost. This is its last chance to raise hell before the house is gone forever, and there's still plenty of room in the strange little family plot. New from Cherie Priest, a modern master of supernatural fiction, The Family Plot is a haunted house story for the ages - atmospheric, scary, and strange, with a modern gothic sensibility that every bit as fresh as it is frightening.

30 review for The Family Plot

  1. 4 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    The Family Plot is such a superb book. I have a deep love for haunted houses and yes, even though I didn't find this book scary was I intrigued and engrossed with the story. Then again, it will take a hell of a lot to scare me. Nevertheless, I found myself hooked from the start with the mystery of the Withrow house. I could easily imagine the place because Cherie Priest manages to portray it so vividly. And, besides the strong story did the story also have great characters. Dahlia the main chara The Family Plot is such a superb book. I have a deep love for haunted houses and yes, even though I didn't find this book scary was I intrigued and engrossed with the story. Then again, it will take a hell of a lot to scare me. Nevertheless, I found myself hooked from the start with the mystery of the Withrow house. I could easily imagine the place because Cherie Priest manages to portray it so vividly. And, besides the strong story did the story also have great characters. Dahlia the main character is a strong woman recently divorced (but mostly angry about losing the house she loved rather than the man) and together with her cousin Bobby, his son Gabe and Brad that works for the family business are they planning on stripping the house down. They just didn't expect the ghost. Especially not the angry ghost. I think what really made the book work is the strong characters, yes the cousins Dahlia and Bobby didn't always see eye to eye, but still, the deep loyalty to each other is there. So, what can I say? I'm such a sucker for haunted houses and this just sucked me in and I could hardly stop reading it, despite being tired and needing to sleep when I started it. And, the rest of the book did I finish the day after. Did the ending feel a bit expected? Yes, yet still I liked it. I really like the book and I think if you like haunted houses will you like it too! I want to thank Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    When Augusta Winthrop offers City Music Salvage the rights to her ancestral home, before its destruction, Chuck puts his business on the line and takes her up on her offer. Hoping there is enough in period building materials, stain glass windows and other things he sends his daughter Dahlia and a crew of three others to take what they can. There they find many things that will more than make the initial investment pay off, but there are other things, not so nice, not so easily explained, that we When Augusta Winthrop offers City Music Salvage the rights to her ancestral home, before its destruction, Chuck puts his business on the line and takes her up on her offer. Hoping there is enough in period building materials, stain glass windows and other things he sends his daughter Dahlia and a crew of three others to take what they can. There they find many things that will more than make the initial investment pay off, but there are other things, not so nice, not so easily explained, that were not expected, unwelcome occurrences. An old house, buried secrets, Chattanooga, Tennessee were the descriptions that drew me to read this one. A good semi scary book perfect for those who don't like to be thoroughly terrorized with blood and gore, for Halloween. Just scary enough, with many mysterious happenings and fabulous descriptions of the house itself, to keep the reader interested. Though the last twenty percent of the book amps up the scary factor. Loved the ending though, pretty darn creepy. ARC from Netgalley.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Family Plot by Cherie Priest is a 2016 Tor publication. This story is written just the way a good horror novel should be, with an ending that gave me the shivers!!! Haunted houses and ghost stories are my favorite horror novel tropes, but I seldom find a contemporary tale that satisfies me. So, I am happy I discovered this little gem! Anyone who enjoys ghosts, the paranormal, or horror novels will want to give this book a try. This review is the copyrighted property of Night Owl Reviews. To read th Family Plot by Cherie Priest is a 2016 Tor publication. This story is written just the way a good horror novel should be, with an ending that gave me the shivers!!! Haunted houses and ghost stories are my favorite horror novel tropes, but I seldom find a contemporary tale that satisfies me. So, I am happy I discovered this little gem! Anyone who enjoys ghosts, the paranormal, or horror novels will want to give this book a try. This review is the copyrighted property of Night Owl Reviews. To read the full review, click on this link: https://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Re...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    A salvage team is dismantling an old mansion and encounters more than they expected. How fun to read a ghost story set in Chattanooga while there for training, and be able to see some of the landscapes mentioned in the book by looking out my hotel window. This is absolutely a time when reading the book in the setting aided in the enjoyment! But if you like old houses and mysterious cemeteries this is probably the book for you.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    Probably 3.5 stars--somewhere between "liked" and "really liked." If you like ghost stories, this is a good one, with some creepy moments. The true star of this book is the house. The house's antique details are described well, and various rooms (the attic, the pink bathroom, the bedroom with the closed door) are so vivid that they almost become characters instead of just places. The last 15% or so of this book is really gripping--and scary--and I especially enjoyed the last page. I love ghost st Probably 3.5 stars--somewhere between "liked" and "really liked." If you like ghost stories, this is a good one, with some creepy moments. The true star of this book is the house. The house's antique details are described well, and various rooms (the attic, the pink bathroom, the bedroom with the closed door) are so vivid that they almost become characters instead of just places. The last 15% or so of this book is really gripping--and scary--and I especially enjoyed the last page. I love ghost stories, and having the main character be a salvager was a nice twist. There were some things I thought needed work (the characters' in-family bickering was tedious and repetitive--so immature!--and could have been trimmed down; and I would have liked to get to know the ghost a bit more--we never learn her feelings or motivations, and her story isn't really dug into very deeply). This is my first Cherie Priest book, but it won't be my last. I received this review copy from the publisher on NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review; I appreciate it!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Johann (jobis89)

    “They echoed and scratched like a blade on the brittle, cheap wood of the attic’s subflooring - cutting letter after letter in an accusation that wouldn’t die.” A group of salvagers are given the job of stripping down an old mansion in four days. However it won’t be as easy as they had hoped... If you’re looking to develop an unhealthy fear of your bathroom, you gotta pick this one up! As a horror fan, I can’t help but LOVE a big gothic house, steeped in history and secrets. I mean, I couldn’t liv “They echoed and scratched like a blade on the brittle, cheap wood of the attic’s subflooring - cutting letter after letter in an accusation that wouldn’t die.” A group of salvagers are given the job of stripping down an old mansion in four days. However it won’t be as easy as they had hoped... If you’re looking to develop an unhealthy fear of your bathroom, you gotta pick this one up! As a horror fan, I can’t help but LOVE a big gothic house, steeped in history and secrets. I mean, I couldn’t live in one, but I adore books and movies wherein an unsettling house is the main focus. The Family Plot certainly brought the scares for me! It wasn’t pee your pants scary - very few books are, if any. But I did feel more at ease reading it during the daylight hours. There’s just something about a haunted house! My thought process runs along these lines - “This takes place in a house, you say?! But I live in a house! This could happen to ME” And then I start talking myself down “Ah, but my house is only 30 odd years old, you’re the first ones to live here... it’s fine” and a cool head prevails.... Until you consider what your house may have been built on... Anyway, enough of my crazy thoughts... I did really like this one! The backstory was great, the unravelling of details and pacing was executed quite well, and there was an awesome poem towards the end that I really loved. I had some minor issues though. The dialogue felt a little clunky at times, and the familial drama started to grind on me. Their bickering became quite irritating and it made them seem closer to teenagers than adults. Oh, and sometimes the main character would talk to the house and the ghosts? Mega cringe! Overall, however, I would certainly recommend it. Especially if you’re a fan of southern gothic tales! And who doesn’t love a good ghost story?! With a creepy burial plot! And a creepy soldier! Worth a read if haunted houses are your jam! 3.5 stars.

  7. 5 out of 5

    TheBookSmugglers

    I am reading this now and shitting myself with fear, for reals, I had to pee last night I had to hold it until this morning cause no way no how did I want to get up in the DARK, walk across the WINDOW FACING THE FIELD then go to the DARK DARK BATHROOM by myself holy fuck

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/10/26/... You never know what you’re going to get when you pick up a book by Cherie Priest. This is the third novel I’ve read by the author, after Boneshaker and Maplecroft, but in neither of those cases did I feel strongly enough to continue their respective series. The Family Plot, however, was a little different. I found myself hooked from the first page, and didn’t come up for air until I was finished. Maybe it was because of t 4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/10/26/... You never know what you’re going to get when you pick up a book by Cherie Priest. This is the third novel I’ve read by the author, after Boneshaker and Maplecroft, but in neither of those cases did I feel strongly enough to continue their respective series. The Family Plot, however, was a little different. I found myself hooked from the first page, and didn’t come up for air until I was finished. Maybe it was because of the book’s topic. I’ve always been drawn to stories about haunted houses, and the entire premise of The Family Plot is built around the subject. We begin with an introduction to Chuck Dutton, founder and owner of Music City Salvage, a company that specializes in the stripping of old properties and then reselling the valuable pieces. Unfortunately, business isn’t doing too well, and Chuck is one bad deal away from going under. So when the stately Augusta Withrow walks through his office door offering him salvage rights to her sizeable historic family estate and all for a steal of $40,000, he’s understandably dubious. Still, the gorgeous photos of the house’s interiors and the potential for a large payoff ultimately leads him agree to the job, and Chuck decides to send a skeleton crew headed by his daughter Dahlia to undertake the project. Dahlia and her team—made up of her cousin Bobby, his son Gabe, and a relatively new employee of Music City named Brad—all make the drive out together to the old house nestled in the backwoods of Chattanooga, Tennessee…and arrive to a veritable goldmine. With only a few days to complete the job, the four of them get down to stripping the place right away. Still, while the splendor of the Withrow estate is certainly everything that was promised, the crew soon uncovers a few surprises. For one thing, Augusta had failed to mention the small graveyard on the property, tucked away among the overgrown trees. To save time and money, the team has also decided to forgo hotels and spend the nights at the house, but strange things are happening and they only seem to get worse when darkness falls. Then, all four of them start to see people who aren’t really there, ghosts that are watching, waiting, and trying to communicate something—but none of the salvage crew have any idea what that could possibly be. Imagine HGTV’s Salvage Dogs meets Paranormal Activity and you have a pretty good idea of what The Family Plot is about. On the one hand, there’s something very appealing about exploring old houses, the idea of uncovering history and not knowing what amazing treasures you’ll find. On the other hand though, there’s also a certain wariness, knowing that when a house gets to a certain age it can almost take on a life and spirit of its own. Dahlia is someone who understands that all too well, especially since she makes a living from gutting places such as these. From the moment the crew steps foot onto the Withrow estate, an atmosphere of foreboding immediately descends upon the reader. The house itself is like a character in this story; you get the feeling that it knows these people are going to come in and take it apart, and it is PISSED. Plus, in addition to a good old house haunting you also get a healthy dose of family drama. Those relationship dynamics add an extra layer of tension to an already strained situation, exacerbating the setting’s creepy atmosphere and the desperation caused by the time crunch. In many ways, the fantastic development of Dahlia’s personality helped this book stand out for me, along with the deconstruction of her character’s hurt and anger following her messy divorce. Worse, her hotheaded and recalcitrant cousin Bobby is also her ex-husband’s best friend, which makes his presence on her crew even more awkward. Still, Dahlia is not someone to complain about her circumstances, and manages to wrangle her crew effectively using a smart give-and-take philosophy. Another noteworthy aspect of this book was its general matter-of-fact attitude about the existence of ghosts. It seems almost every single haunted house story that I’ve read in recent memory have tackled this with ambiguity or left readers wondering, “What was real and what wasn’t?” Not so with The Family Plot. Ghosts are an occupational hazard when you’re in Dahlia’s line of work, and she acknowledges their presence with an almost insouciant air of someone who has seen it all. There is no question of whether or not there really are ghosts at the Withrow estate—the answer is a resounding yes, they are real, and yes, they are there. What we’re left wondering is who they are and what they want, and yet those puzzles are enough to keep the mystery of the story going, along with the pervasive sense that something just doesn’t feel right (well, besides the fact that there are actually ghosts). Everything that Augusta has told Music City and everything the crew has learned sounds legit, but there is still that nagging feeling that not everything is adding up, and so you want to keep reading to find out what is going on. With three books by Priest under my belt now, one thing I’ve learned is that she is an incredibly versatile writer who seems to glide effortlessly into any kind of story or narrative style she decides to take on. Every novel I’ve read by her so far has been very different from each other. However, that also means not all her books are going to strike my fancy, as evidenced by my previous experiences, but I’m glad I decided to keep trying her work. The Family Plot came along and managed to hit every one of my buttons and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I would highly recommend it for anyone who loves stories about ghosts or haunted houses.

  9. 4 out of 5

    ᴥ Irena ᴥ

    I love Cherie Priest. I think my average rating of her books is somewhere around 4+. She doesn't stick to only one genre, though. And judging by how well she writes pretty much anything, it's a good thing. That way you can read an awesome steampunk series The Clockwork Century. Then there's lovecraftian The Borden Dispaches or urban fantasy Cheshire Red Reports. If you like urban fantasy with a southern Gothic feel then Eden Moore series is just the thing you might like. If you like your werewol I love Cherie Priest. I think my average rating of her books is somewhere around 4+. She doesn't stick to only one genre, though. And judging by how well she writes pretty much anything, it's a good thing. That way you can read an awesome steampunk series The Clockwork Century. Then there's lovecraftian The Borden Dispaches or urban fantasy Cheshire Red Reports. If you like urban fantasy with a southern Gothic feel then Eden Moore series is just the thing you might like. If you like your werewolves animalistic, dangerous and not really desirable, you could try Dreadful Skin. You could make a mistake with The Family Plot if you expect it to be a in your face horror. The whole plot revolves around a salvage crew of four who have a week or so to strip an old estate of its valuables. They are very motivated because if they don't find anything there, they are out of business. Most of the book is the group dynamic, how they deal with each other and the tasks in front of them. Three of them are family so there's lots of arguing. Soon, they all start feeling and seeing things that shouldn't be there. It takes a while for the whole story to come out, but it was worth my time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Proffitt

    I'm not a huge reader of ghost stories and seldom read horror. Still, this felt like Cherie Priest skipped through the fall harvest in an apple orchard taking swipes at apples. Sure she hit most, missed some, but it's still all low-hanging fruit. Whether it was dramatic weather or cheap situational symbolism or the autistic boy who sees/knows all or the inevitable accident delaying them leaving in time to avoid catastrophe, she used them all in the most obvious way possible. Which is sad because I'm not a huge reader of ghost stories and seldom read horror. Still, this felt like Cherie Priest skipped through the fall harvest in an apple orchard taking swipes at apples. Sure she hit most, missed some, but it's still all low-hanging fruit. Whether it was dramatic weather or cheap situational symbolism or the autistic boy who sees/knows all or the inevitable accident delaying them leaving in time to avoid catastrophe, she used them all in the most obvious way possible. Which is sad because I like a lot of what Priest has written in the past. Just not this. Oh, and don't forget the reader-betraying epilogue that routes around the ending (view spoiler)[(while also throwing away the "camera that caught it all" trope in one of the dumber build-up-to-nothing moves I've read in a while) (hide spoiler)] . I read this to the end. I really wish I hadn't. Not because it's scary (it isn't, terribly) but because it turns out to have been a waste of time. (view spoiler)[And I can't help feeling like the central ghost story is a banal little drama that's all build-up and little actual horror. A girl kills the boy who knocked her up and then left her (practically laughing in her face) and then her baby dies (she probably killed it, but that's at least a little ambiguous). And then she commits suicide to "show them all". It's pedestrian because it's almost expected of a desperate, selfish girl with selfish, even entitled parents. This isn't horror. This is tragedy with a side of self-indulgence. (hide spoiler)]

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Morrell

    A group of salvagers are given the job of a lifetime, strip down an old mansion in four days. A make-or-break job for the family business, failure is not an option. Not even when the local ghosts have other plans. It's spooky at times, and I admire the determination of the characters. But I still consider this a "oh hell no" book. There's a ghost in the shower! We can get around this by not putting our face in the water! Oh hell no. Let's all just sleep in one room! If the ghosts watch us all nig A group of salvagers are given the job of a lifetime, strip down an old mansion in four days. A make-or-break job for the family business, failure is not an option. Not even when the local ghosts have other plans. It's spooky at times, and I admire the determination of the characters. But I still consider this a "oh hell no" book. There's a ghost in the shower! We can get around this by not putting our face in the water! Oh hell no. Let's all just sleep in one room! If the ghosts watch us all night, at least no one is dying! Oh hell no. If we work our asses off we can get out of here exactly five minutes before dark and maybe the ghosts won't attack anyone this time! Oh. Hell. No.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jack +Books & Bourbon+

    As I finished this book on the plane trip to Dallas/Ft. Worth, this song was playing on my iPod. Seemed eerily appropriate... Sitting in the rain alone, looking at a place that’s gone, boarded up my memories, but something’s drawn me here again and I, I cannot leave the past alone. Hoped that I would never find all the shit I left behind, but now I find the child in me is going to remind me that I, I can’t forget the past for long. Over The Rhine, Give Me Strength One of my favorite authors wrote a As I finished this book on the plane trip to Dallas/Ft. Worth, this song was playing on my iPod. Seemed eerily appropriate... Sitting in the rain alone, looking at a place that’s gone, boarded up my memories, but something’s drawn me here again and I, I cannot leave the past alone. Hoped that I would never find all the shit I left behind, but now I find the child in me is going to remind me that I, I can’t forget the past for long. Over The Rhine, Give Me Strength One of my favorite authors wrote a southern haunted house story, with a unique premise of why the protagonists are in the house to begin with?! I was 100% on board with the concept…but while the initial vault onto the beam was good, this one just couldn’t stick the landing for me. But, that said, one of the things that I admire most about Cherie Priest is that she can genre-hop with the best of them. I’d be hard-pressed to lump her into any given category or genre, and that to me says quite a bit about an author’s skill. While there’s nothing wrong with an author staying within a genre they love, I think it takes quite a bit of guts and talent for an author to try their hand at whatever story they feel like telling, genre be damned. I have absolutely loved both her Lizzie Borden/H.P. Lovecraft mashups and her steampunk/zombie mashups, and I firmly expected to love this one too. But…while the story is solid and the writing is good, The Family Plot just didn’t grab me quite like I had hoped it would. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad. It’s just…ok. There is a sense of dread to be sure, and Cherie Priest can set a tone like nobody’s business. But that’s not quite enough to carry a tale like this. As with all my reviews, I will attempt to avoid spoilers. If it’s not mentioned in the official book synopsis, I will do my level best to avoid mentioning it here. The Family Plot is a single POV, third person affair set in the competitive and ever-popular world of…home salvage… To be fair, I have no doubt that this is a booming business, as there is always a demand for true antiques, retro house decorations, and rare woods. One just needs to turn on the television to see how many shows there are centered around the conceit of working in/on/around houses. But instead of building them up for profit, this book follows people who tear them down for profit instead. I might have sounded like I was giving it crap earlier in this paragraph, but the setting is actually unique and provides a different, and completely plausible, reason for the story to take place in an old spooky house. No, there’s no bet proposed by an eccentric millionaire, there’s no intrepid camera crew looking to score the big one, and no “my car broke down along the road and I saw a light” shenanigans. No, our demolition and salvage crew have a legitimate blue collar reason for being there, and that’s a refreshing change of pace. If there’s a highlight of the story for me, it’s the POV character of Dahlia Dutton. While she’s tough and sassy, it’s never taken to unbelievable levels. She works for her father in the estate salvage business, and has a good head for it. What I really liked about her character is that she has multiple layers to her. She’s a hard-working, down-to-earth southern girl who takes no gruff from her male coworkers, but she also has some recent baggage that makes her a bit emotional and prone to self-doubt. It’s no great tragedy (in the traditional sense of the word) that defines her, but it’s a struggle I can relate to, which made me instantly more invested in her as a character. I speak her damage language for sure. And I enjoyed the fact that she has a love/hate relationship with her job. She’s good at it (very good), but she hates tearing down old houses and ending their stories. I wouldn’t call her a conflicted character necessarily, but she did have some internal conflict that kept her interesting. A one-dimensional character she was not. I think that I tend to gauge my enjoyment of a character by whether or not I could sit down and have a beer with them and never run out of conversation. Dahlia and I could share ghost stories, and she’d not balk at any drink put before her. Ergo, the kind of character I can root for. Pretty built-in cabinetry could distract her from a ringing in her ears and the uncanny sense that she had heard a voice say things like “angry” and “unloved,” because that was ridiculous. In all the years she’d been talking to houses, the houses had never talked back. She was still dragging her feet. Still barricading forts that had already fallen. Scavenging mementos. Harvesting organs. As for other characters, we get a few, though none of them are terribly fleshed out (this is pretty much Dahlia’s tale no matter who else might co-star). We get one whole intro chapter from Chuck Dutton, Dahlia’s father, as he takes the salvage job initially. Aside from that, we get Dahlia’s salvage crew, who are a mixed bag. Bobby is Dahlia’s cousin, and there’s some painful history between them that brings some family drama to the proceedings. Gabe is Bobby’s teenage son, and isn’t sure which side of the family drama he’s supposed to be on. Rounding out the crew is Brad, who is a city boy making a go of the rough & tumble salvager lifestyle. Of the characters, Bobby gets the most mileage, as we do get some insight into what caused their great rift. The others are there…and that’s about all I can say about them. This is really Dahlia’s show, as we are basically in her headspace for like 95% of the book. She didn’t do much praying, and wasn’t sure there was any God on the other side of the ceiling who might be listening, but she believed in ghosts, both good and bad. Besides, the house was listening. She believed that with something steadier than her heart. The other bright spot in The Family Plot is the setting, namely the house itself. The Withrow estate is a grand old home, with its share of history and architectural changes over the years. Cherie Priest does a masterful job at making the house seem like another character. There’s definitely a strong sense of atmosphere here. It starts as a feeling of strangeness, and then evolves into a full blown sense of dread and oppression. As for the actual ghosts, Cherie Priest mixes it up a little. We have the usual motions and shadows witnessed out of the corner of the eye, and the always reliable “see them in a mirror” trick. And the main haunt shows up a little differently than I’ve seen before, and it’s kinda unique and cool. But, outside of that, there’s not much that genre fans haven’t already seen. Which is a real shame, as Cherie Priest generally has one hell of an imagination, and always seems to throw something unique on page. I did it in here, you know. Momma hid all the knives, so I broke the window and did all my cutting with a piece of glass. It worked faster and made a bigger mess. Which brings me to my major gripe…The Family Plot just isn’t that scary. The buildup is good and there’s a great reason for the ghosts to exist in the house…but the book just doesn’t bring on the scares like I thought it would. Now, to be fair, not much scares me, but even with most horror based books I get a little tingle from the supernatural shenanigans taking place, but I got nothing here. And that might be because this is likely the most detailed book I’ve read in a long time. And when I say detailed, I mean SUPER detailed. Like, every small action gets a sentence, and nearly every somewhat complex action gets its own paragraph. I truly don’t recall her other works being this…wordy. It goes something like this; She inserted the key into the lock. It slid home like it belonged. She turned the key, and there was a click as the tumblers engaged. She turned the key back and removed it. She took the key and put it into her pocket. She made sure to give her pocket a good pat to make sure the key was snug. The door with the original hardware was now ready to be opened. Now, it’s written better than that, but that’s the flow of basically everything that happens in this book. I’m not going to say its Robert Jordan levels of wordy, but man is it up there. It was so detailed that it actually became kind of tedious. Thankfully, near the end of the tale when the haunting is in full swing, things get toned down a bit and the story flows better. But the first two-thirds of this book are just a chore to get through. I think the book would have been better with a little less day-to-day detail, and a little more attention paid to the spook factor. I just don’t get it….the things that get detailed are everyday things we all do, so there’s no need for that much specificity. You know what does get a lot of detail? The actual business of salvage and the various things in an older house that might be worth something to discerning customers. I get the impression that Cherie Priest likes renovating old houses, and wrote a fictional book around the subject. And since she likes the dark side of things (probably why I like her so much), she decided to make it a ghost story. And hey, I love doing renovations too. But, if she had put as much care into the actual spooky part of the story as she did in the house details, this book would likely have had more of an impact. But even with all the detail, Cherie Priest still manages to write some damn beautiful sentences. And some funny ones as well. Though it’s toned down somewhat in this book, her sarcastic nature still shines through in her writing. By her preteen years, the oldest girl, Abigail, had developed a classic case of resting bitch face. She’d turned out pretty, but her mouth aimed down at the corners. Her eyebrows had a permanent arch that suggested that whatever you were saying, she didn’t believe it. So, did I like the book? Yeah, I liked it. Not a lot, but I liked it. I can admit to being slightly disappointed in the delivery, I’m still a huge Cherie Priest fan, and I can only hope that her next endeavor brings more scares and less of the minute to minute tedium. 3 out of 5 scuffed but salvageable stars!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Beth The Vampire

    ACTUAL RATING 2.5 STARS I am very disappointed. Two reasons: 1) I love ghost stories and haunted houses and this one was missing something, and 2) This is the first book I’ve read by Cherie Priest, and she features a lot on my TBR, and this doesn’t fill me with confidence for future books. My favourite part of the whole story was actually the poem at the end. So if you are a young man With a bonny maid to woo, Be careful with the vows you make And who you make them to. For wicked girls will weave a web ACTUAL RATING 2.5 STARS I am very disappointed. Two reasons: 1) I love ghost stories and haunted houses and this one was missing something, and 2) This is the first book I’ve read by Cherie Priest, and she features a lot on my TBR, and this doesn’t fill me with confidence for future books. My favourite part of the whole story was actually the poem at the end. So if you are a young man With a bonny maid to woo, Be careful with the vows you make And who you make them to. For wicked girls will weave a web. Be sure you don’t get caught. Lest you find yourself one day Beneath the family plot. The old Withrow house is being demolished, but before that happens Dahlia’s father buys the rights to essentially hollow out the place of anything of value so he can sell it on. Dahlia and a few of her work colleagues set off down to the old house to see what they can find, hoping that it will save their floundering family business. Initially Dahlia despairs at ripping apart this old Victorian home, but she soon comes to fear the home as a lost graveyard is discovered and the ghosts of family long gone come out to play. There was so much potential, but what killed it for me almost right away was the lack of atmosphere. Ghost stories, especially ones such as this, need to have the right atmosphere to provide that level of terror, and this just didn’t have it. The story of the ghosts itself was intriguing, but at the same time kind of plain. When Dahlia figured it all out, I kept on waiting for some kind of twist or for her to discover something that changes what she thinks is happening, but it never came. I don’t know why the ghost was so fixated on Dahlia in the first place, why she was targeted. Something was mentioned about the ghost feeling Dahlia’s anger and that she had also been wronged by her ex-husband, but that was it and just didn’t seem enough. Even the moments that I felt were supposed to be truly terrifying just didn’t feel like that at all. I have read ghost/horror stories that have made goosbumps rise on the back of my neck, that have genuinely given me the creeps to the point where I have nightmares. This book did none of those things, and was quite tame in that regard. I didn’t really care what happened to Dahlia and her crew, and in the end, nothing really did. What was the point of that whole experience, what did Dahlia learn, how has it changed her? The poem, although really beautiful and deserving of a star in itself , told us the story we already knew, and then the camera footage replayed what we had already been through, no revelations or differing perspectives. I was hoping for Dahlia to see on the footage something that she maybe missed before, and there was a layer of suspense added to it, but it eventuated into nothing. The Epilogue did nothing to clear all this up, and while I think I know what the end means, I don’t know why or what the point is. See, frustrating. Great imagery, especially of the house and the grounds. I would love to live in an old Victorian haunted house (as long as the ghosts weren’t trying to kill me that is). The writing was simple, yet effective. I just wish it could have been something more.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Dooley

    A haunted house book. Hadn't read one in ages so decided to give this one a try. Music City Salvage is a salvage company that specialises in buying the rights to stripping old houses of their contents to sell on. Owned and run by Chuck Dutton, the company is floundering and in need of some profitable business to help salvage it(pun intended!) In walks Augusta Withrow, the only living member of the Withrow family left and owner of the large and derelict family home. The house is to be demolished A haunted house book. Hadn't read one in ages so decided to give this one a try. Music City Salvage is a salvage company that specialises in buying the rights to stripping old houses of their contents to sell on. Owned and run by Chuck Dutton, the company is floundering and in need of some profitable business to help salvage it(pun intended!) In walks Augusta Withrow, the only living member of the Withrow family left and owner of the large and derelict family home. The house is to be demolished and she is offering Chuck the chance to buy the contents of the house and it's grounds for $40,000. It's a chance for Chuck to make some real money but also a chance that could sink the company altogether if the job doesn't pay, especially with the large price paid for it. Chuck accepts and sends his daughter Dahlia to lead a team of four including herself, her cousin Bobby, his son Gabe and Brad. They head out to the house, planning on sorting and stripping the house in a few days and staying at the house to save on hotel bills. We get beautiful descriptions of the house, which is of course central to story and Dahlia is a lover of these old houses and believes they are a near breathing entity, conflicted by her love for them and having to test them down. What ensues is a very well told story of creepy things happening, a discovery of an on site unlisted graveyard that may or may not be real, doors closing on their own, apparitions appearing. The surprising thing is that all our main characters see ghosts from an early enough stage in the book. None of them doubt that they are ghosts, which as a reader took a little getting used to, but it was a handy plot line to keep the story on track and not sideline it with "there's no such thing as ghosts" " was it a ghost or a trick of the light" etc etc. They deal in very old houses and ghosts may or may not come with the territory. The characters are well defined. Dahlia is the lead character and a very likeable one. Recently divorced and a firm believer in houses as being a living entity or at least retaining the memories of past families, she has a tenuous relationship with her cousin Bobby and they often clash throughout the book. As the story goes on more and more is revealed about the Withrow family, their secrets and the ghosts that may be there until it reaches a climax on their last night there during a heavy storm. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. There were times when I thought too much time was spent describing the house in fine detail but then it was central to the story, both as the "haunted house" and also its monetary value to Music City Salvage. Also the last page of the book was a little too cliched for my liking and could have been left out altogether but I'm knit picking. I seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment with good novels and I will add Cherie Priests The Family Plot to that list. I'd have no hesitation in recommending it. I would like to thank Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Cherie Priest and NetGalley for an advance copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Review from Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2016/1... I loved the entire premise of this book. The story focuses on members of a scavenging team that go in to old properties to pull out pieces that can be restored and resold. Chuck Dutton, the owner of Music City Salvage, decided to seize a financial opportunity that will either make or break the struggling company. Sight unseen his signs the papers to purchase an old estate that looks promising. He pretty much paid more money th Review from Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2016/1... I loved the entire premise of this book. The story focuses on members of a scavenging team that go in to old properties to pull out pieces that can be restored and resold. Chuck Dutton, the owner of Music City Salvage, decided to seize a financial opportunity that will either make or break the struggling company. Sight unseen his signs the papers to purchase an old estate that looks promising. He pretty much paid more money than he could afford for it, so if it doesn’t work out, this decision will destroy their company. He sends his daughter (and our main protagonist), Dahlia, down to head the salvage team. First, I really liked Dahlia. She is recently separated, working on her independence. And her personality is great. No nonsense, but very likable. As the team gets to the house, I have to say I quickly came to love what they do for a living. Going into old houses and building, salvaging the pieces that can still be of value was just a wonderful thing to read about. It brings a bit of beauty from the house’s past out, and shares it around to new places. It lets parts of the house live on even if it is about to be torn down. The prose of this felt similar to many urban fantasy books I’ve read. I think while this is classified as horror, it would have a strong cross over appeal to readers that may not read horror, but love urban fantasy. Just the way the story is told, the protagonist’s personality and narration felt more like UF to me. Perhaps it is because of Dahlia’s personality, her against the odds, stand on my own type of persona. Even the way the horror aspect of this was approached felt similar to UF to me. It was a bit a mystery, and almost had a slight detective style to it as Dahlia and her coworkers try to uncover the reason and source of the strange goings on. But, don’t let that dissuade any fans of horror, because while the pace and narration reminded me of many good urban fantasy stories I’ve read, the creepy ghost and haunting aspect of this puts it solidly in the horror genre. I would never classify this book as anything else, I just think because of the style of writing, it will have crossover appeal to some readers that may typically steer clear of horror. And speaking of creepy going ons. This book is one seriously haunting ghost story. The suspense and mystery and oddities encountered kept me at the edge of my seat, reading any chance I could find. Highly recommend this one, especially this time of year when creepy ghost stories are just something you need to read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    THE FAMILY PLOT is the first I have read from author Cherie Priest, and I was very impressed with this take on the haunted house sub-genre, and the dark humor infused within it. The Music City Salvage Company is in the business of getting the rights to buildings that are about to be torn down. They go in, dismantle everything that could be sold as vintage or good quality, and in turn sell them to buyers looking for just such things to add to their own homes. The company is in dire straights when THE FAMILY PLOT is the first I have read from author Cherie Priest, and I was very impressed with this take on the haunted house sub-genre, and the dark humor infused within it. The Music City Salvage Company is in the business of getting the rights to buildings that are about to be torn down. They go in, dismantle everything that could be sold as vintage or good quality, and in turn sell them to buyers looking for just such things to add to their own homes. The company is in dire straights when Chuck Dutton, the owner, is approached by elderly Miss Augusta Withrow about purchasing salvage rights to the Old Withrow Estate. With vintage marble, great quality wood, fixtures, and stained glass--and that's not counting the external buildings--it seems too good to be true. ". . . the estate ends here. Believe me, it's for the best." Despite any misgivings, it's not a job they can afford to pass up. Led by Chuck's daughter, Dahlia, a team of four is hastily put together and set out to begin the salvaging immediately. "Worst case scenario, I'm wrong, we get lost, and we're eaten by cannibal rednecks." The novel is told mainly from the point-of-view of Dahlia. I felt this was a good choice because she is the most complex character that we learn about. That isn't to say that we don't get to know the others--we do--however, Dahlia has the most "emotional conflict" over dismantling beautiful old homes for profit. She certainly knows exactly what she's doing, but a part of her longs to save these old homes and live in them, herself. ". . . In all the years she'd been talking to houses, the houses never talked back." It did surprise me that the people that usually went on these salvage missions, also had an "awareness" of ghosts. There was none of the usual "ghosts don't exist" excuses here, just a simple acceptance that when dealing with old properties, you'd have to be senseless to not expect some "remnants" occasionally. You get the feeling that most of this team have "seen it all", and that is part of why this book stood out to me so much more. ". . . I'm not too scared of ghosts, but I have a healthy respect for them. That's just common sense . . ." The atmosphere was set right from the start. As one of the most crucial ingredients for a horror story to possess, this is what really drew me in. There are all manner of . . . things . . . around this old mansion, and all of them are different. One, in particular, really "made" the story. ". . . We can't salvage ghosts. They don't sell for shit." There was a lot of light-hearted comedy throughout to offset the more intense moments. However, none of the crew were left without misgivings. This place definitely had more activity than they routinely saw on their usual missions. ". . . It was logical. The dead don't care and the living needed the money . . . " Perhaps sensing the attraction that this home had for Dahlia, the owner was quick to provide her with a simple warning. "Beauty lies, dear . . . So do houses." Overall, I really enjoyed this novel for its plot, characters, and even the soon-to-be demolished mansion. There were all manner of supernatural activities there, that most tried to work around, but some of them were positively terrifying. ". . . I hate this place . . . it scares the shit out of me . . . " The only real criticism I have is that it was overly wordy when it came to some details. For instance, I don't need an entire paragraph devoted to telling me about a key sliding into a lock, moving the tumblers, where it's placed afterward, and the person patting it to make sure it's still there. For a haunted house story, it was a unique style for me, and one I really enjoyed. If trimmed down a bit, and given a little more background around the more malicious entities, this had the potential to be a five star book for me. ". . . It's none of our business, and not our problem." I'm looking forward to reading more books by this author in the near future. Recommended.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    ‘The Family Plot’ is a by-the-numbers haunted house story – but I loved every minute of it! I also felt this book is a bit of a return-to-form for Cherie Priest. It will likely appeal most to fans of her Eden Moore series. Dahlia works for the family business, her dad’s architectural salvage company. Times have been tough, but then, what seems like a potential gold mine falls into their lap. Mrs. Withrow, a lady of a certain age, wants her family estate torn down ASAP. But first, she’s selling th ‘The Family Plot’ is a by-the-numbers haunted house story – but I loved every minute of it! I also felt this book is a bit of a return-to-form for Cherie Priest. It will likely appeal most to fans of her Eden Moore series. Dahlia works for the family business, her dad’s architectural salvage company. Times have been tough, but then, what seems like a potential gold mine falls into their lap. Mrs. Withrow, a lady of a certain age, wants her family estate torn down ASAP. But first, she’s selling the rights to salvage anything and everything from the property. Her asking price is less than it ought to be, considering the resale value – but it’s still going to put the business in the red. And when Dahlia gets to the old mansion to oversee the demolition team, she’s bound to discover that there’s a good reason that old lady Withrow wanted her former home demolished rather than renovated. Chills and eerie happenings are in store, as old secrets are (sometimes literally) unearthed. My only feeling of ‘iffiness’ about the tale is Dahlia’s mater-of-fact readiness to accept the probability of ghosts. The attitude is, “Well, naturally, I spend a lot of time in old houses, of course there are ghosts – I’ve even seen them before!” On the one hand, I liked the twist to the usual disbelief factor – but on the other hand, it diminished the drama just a bit. Still, if you’re a fan of haunted-house stories, this is one to not-miss. Many thanks to Tor and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinion is unaffected by the source.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mich Must Read

    Fairly predictable, but there were a few good creepy parts. However, there was so much bickering, I felt as if I were watching a reality tv show.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    I'm not really into haunted house stories but I have to admit this one it's good. I had a hard time putting it down at night since I was so eager to know what's going to happen with the house and characters. I never read anything by Cherie Priest and I'm happy I started out with The Family Plot, I don't know if her fans agrees but I enjoyed this one. I like her writing, very easy to follow and as I read, it had a good flow to it. Since this a haunted house story it didn't scare me although I love I'm not really into haunted house stories but I have to admit this one it's good. I had a hard time putting it down at night since I was so eager to know what's going to happen with the house and characters. I never read anything by Cherie Priest and I'm happy I started out with The Family Plot, I don't know if her fans agrees but I enjoyed this one. I like her writing, very easy to follow and as I read, it had a good flow to it. Since this a haunted house story it didn't scare me although I loved the suspense it had as the story progressed. If you're into haunted house stories this one is for you, very entertaining!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Samara Rowling

    Inspired by an episode of Salvage Dawgs — a reality series about people who make their living salvaging fixtures from old buildings — Cherie Priest’s latest standalone horror novel, The Family Plot, is a unique take on the traditional haunted house story. In the book’s opening chapter, Dahlia Dutton and her father, Chuck, buy the exclusive rights to pick over the remains of the Withrow estate, a decaying Tennesse mansion slated for demolition in a few weeks’ time. Even they know the offer is too Inspired by an episode of Salvage Dawgs — a reality series about people who make their living salvaging fixtures from old buildings — Cherie Priest’s latest standalone horror novel, The Family Plot, is a unique take on the traditional haunted house story. In the book’s opening chapter, Dahlia Dutton and her father, Chuck, buy the exclusive rights to pick over the remains of the Withrow estate, a decaying Tennesse mansion slated for demolition in a few weeks’ time. Even they know the offer is too good to be true, but it’s the only thing standing between them and the foreclosure of their family salvage business. While the house and its sordid family history are more or less what readers have come to expect, what makes The Family Plot different to other stories of its kind is its characters — in particular, its no-nonsense protagonist, Dahlia. As anyone who has ever seen a scary movie can attest, horror stories are often let down by writers’ over reliance on tropes like genre blindness, stripping their cast of common sense in order to further the plot. That’s why it’s refreshing to read about people who are not only aware of the danger they’re in, but who also make sensible, relatable decisions to protect themselves against it, even if this does inhibit the book’s scare potential at times. Priest’s approach to characterisation is so simple that it’s a wonder more writers haven’t thought of it. By allowing Dahlia and her crew to accept the inevitable paranormal encounters as a part of the job, and to share information, and to work together to keep each other safe, she engages readers’ sympathy without triggering their disbelief. “You have to be practical about these things,” Dahlia, who is no stranger to old houses or their ghosts, explains to newcomer Brad in one of the book’s most self-referential moments. She then goes on to point out what horror fans have always known: that running around in circles screaming and shouting never accomplishes anything. Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reading Copy from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. For more speculative fiction reviews and discussion, visit me at at https://crazygenretown.wordpress.com/

  21. 5 out of 5

    Taryn

    Reading The Family Plot felt like watching a home renovation show on HGTV. It gave me the same sense of vicarious satisfaction to imagine the old house that is the focus of the story being dismantled piece by piece, with Dahlia Dutton and her crew deciding what can be salvaged and what isn’t worth saving from the wrecking ball. It made me wish I could show up to work in cruddy jeans and boots and root around in a century-old carriage house. I wouldn’t mind switching places with Dahlia for a litt Reading The Family Plot felt like watching a home renovation show on HGTV. It gave me the same sense of vicarious satisfaction to imagine the old house that is the focus of the story being dismantled piece by piece, with Dahlia Dutton and her crew deciding what can be salvaged and what isn’t worth saving from the wrecking ball. It made me wish I could show up to work in cruddy jeans and boots and root around in a century-old carriage house. I wouldn’t mind switching places with Dahlia for a little while and trying out her very interesting career. If it weren’t for the ghosts, that is. Because yeah, I neglected to mention that the old Withrow house Dahlia is sorting through comes with some serious ghostly baggage. They’re not the creepiest ghosts I’ve ever encountered—not all of them are out for blood—but you definitely don’t want to take a shower in this house. Better to go unwashed than…well, I’ll let you read and find out for yourself. I’m a little surprised I was so enamored with the salvage business, because I’m typically the “throw it away and ask questions later” type. I also don’t have much patience for shopping, and I get overwhelmed in stores that are disorganized or have too much stock. If I somehow came into possession of a house like the Withrows’, I’d probably take one look and say, “Burn it to the ground.” Although with the whole ghost thing, maybe that wouldn’t be the worst idea? Still, it’s a testament to Cherie Priest’s talents that she was able to convince me that old things can be cool, and it’s worth the effort to fix and clean them up. I first heard of Cherie Priest a million years ago (aka 2009) when her steampunk Clockwork Century series exploded in popularity, but this is the first time I’ve read her. I’m hooked now for sure. The hard part will be deciding which one to dive into first. Will it be the alternate history about the clairvoyant Floridian, or the epistolary urban fantasy story based on the life of Lizzie Borden? (Seriously, what kind of delightfully twisted mind comes up with stuff like this?) Decisions, decisions! More book recommendations by me at www.readingwithhippos.com

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andreas

    I think the blurb killed this one for me. Honestly, the whole book is handed to you right there, on the spot. (For example, it says that a storm hits the old house and shuts the salvage crew inside the property... well, that only happens about 80% into the book). Overall, I think I would've enjoyed this so much more if it had any surprises left or any plot untouched. Other than that, even though Cherie Priest created some nice enough characters, I didn't really care for their plight or for the ho I think the blurb killed this one for me. Honestly, the whole book is handed to you right there, on the spot. (For example, it says that a storm hits the old house and shuts the salvage crew inside the property... well, that only happens about 80% into the book). Overall, I think I would've enjoyed this so much more if it had any surprises left or any plot untouched. Other than that, even though Cherie Priest created some nice enough characters, I didn't really care for their plight or for the house's story - or its former occupants, for that matter. Had the author given them more background, had she explored them better, or presented the facts in more enthralling ways, everything would've been better, more gripping. Also, the ending... I think that the very last page was kind of uncalled for. It felt like "oh let's get edgy" even though what happened has been done and overdone a lot, and for a very long time already. It may sound like I actually didn't enjoy reading this, but it was fun and I never got bored; I just wish the momentum the author tried to create would've actually held up and that it would've led to something more thrilling. A nice haunted house story, though.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    I put off this book because I kept getting it confused with another book that was definitely not horror and so I didn't realize this one was actually horror. Do not be fooled by this lovely ghostly cover, this book is full of crowbars and plaster dust, and that is part of what makes it so good. With a haunted house novel you know going in that you will see a lot that you've seen before. You hope for some fun new twists. THE FAMILY PLOT has a great setup: our haunted house is about to be demolishe I put off this book because I kept getting it confused with another book that was definitely not horror and so I didn't realize this one was actually horror. Do not be fooled by this lovely ghostly cover, this book is full of crowbars and plaster dust, and that is part of what makes it so good. With a haunted house novel you know going in that you will see a lot that you've seen before. You hope for some fun new twists. THE FAMILY PLOT has a great setup: our haunted house is about to be demolished (red flag) but the owner has sold everything left in it to Chuck and his salvage crew. Chuck has paid a pretty penny for it at a time when he does not have money to burn and it's possible this buy could be his undoing. He sends his daughter Dahlia and a small crew over to the house to get as much as they possibly can out of it. We know the house will be haunted, we know things will go wrong, we are here for the ride. The thing is, I loved every minute of the salvaging. I loved reading about how they picked through old rooms and buildings that had been boarded up for decades. I loved following along as Dahlia surveyed a room, taking in all of its elements, figuring out what is worth saving and what isn't. I have never had any interest in this before, it is not like it's something I have always enjoyed, but I have to admit I enjoy competence and following Dahlia around was definitely a joy of being with a character who is just really good at what they do. This book also makes the smart choice of complicating the whole venture by having Dahlia's no-good cousin Bobby and his very-sweet son Gabe along on the crew. Dahlia and Gabe have to spend a lot of time managing Bobby and strategizing on how to manage Bobby and Bobby spends a lot of time making it clear he does not want to be managed. That Dahlia has to balance managing Bobby and the crew with her growing concern that something is not right in the house really helps build the tension and balance out the story line. (Horror needs balance so much, a lot of horror does not realize that decreasing the tension for a bit only helps you increase it later.) A quick and enjoyable book, the third act is solid if not quite as good as the rest (it's horror so this is actually significantly better than most third acts) and a great reminder that character can do so much to build out a story like this. Would read 5 more Dahlia books.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Michael

    This was a truly a creepy and scary read. This was my first read from Priest, but she writes beautifully and really can set an amazing backdrop for a southern gothic tale. I will write more about this once I can sit with it a little longer, but overall, I really liked The Family Plot. Thanks to all the great GR reviews that pushed me towards this one!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Barb (Boxermommyreads)

    I really wish I had a chance to read this book on a dark and stormy day, because basically, that was all I found missing. I have always enjoyed Priest's writing since I started her Eden Moore series years ago(which I still need to finish BTW) and when she released Maplecroft, my adoration soared. Therefore, I had extremely high expectations for "The Family Plot" and in my opinion the book really delivered and met them. The book starts as Music City Salvage takes a job salvaging the historical Wit I really wish I had a chance to read this book on a dark and stormy day, because basically, that was all I found missing. I have always enjoyed Priest's writing since I started her Eden Moore series years ago(which I still need to finish BTW) and when she released Maplecroft, my adoration soared. Therefore, I had extremely high expectations for "The Family Plot" and in my opinion the book really delivered and met them. The book starts as Music City Salvage takes a job salvaging the historical Withrow Estate in Chattanooga, a job which will either make or break the company. Chuck Dutton sends his daughter Dahlia, and three other crew members to the home for a week to work and in order to save money, they camp out in the old mansion. Shortly after their arrival, strange things start to happen and it takes no time for all four members to realize they are not the only ones staying on the property - they are just the only ones who are still alive. Also, while working, they uncover an old family cemetery which they are told is just the remains of an old Halloween prank, but it it really? You'll just have to read to find out. Priest creates some truly wonderful characters in the pages of this book. Dahlia has an honest respect for the homes she salvages, and if she had her way, she would chose to restore the Withrow Estate to its former glory, rather than deconstruct it piece by piece. She is recently divorced and very bitter about losing her cherished home, not to mention the years wasted with her husband. Bobby, Dahlia's cousin, and his son Gabe, are also working on the job and there is plenty of tension between the three. Bobby took Dahlia's husband's side during the divorce, and Gabe is a older teen basically having to raise his irresponsible father and maintain peace between Bobby and Dahlia. Rounding off the crew is Brad, the preppy graduate student who probably has no business doing salvage work. Although not quite a great comparison I am sure, I kept imagining him as the Shaggy of the Scooby Doo crew. I loved getting to know more about these individuals as the story progressed and a reader couldn't ask for a more take-charge, kick-ass female than Dahlia, the boss of the whole job. To me, this book read like a modern day gothic ghost story. There were some terrifically horrifying scenes and Priest creates a dark moody atmosphere with her descriptions. I often felt like a fly on the wall of the Withrow estate myself...or perhaps a rat in the attic. If you love ghost stories and want a great read for the upcoming Fall/Halloween season, they you need to pick up a copy of "The Family Plot." When all is said and done, this will surely be one of my favorite reads of 2016.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Dawson

    The most boring, not scary (not even creepy) horror book I've ever read. It's not even big and I had to force myself through it. There isn't a "plot" so to speak. The whole book is full of tedious details about salvaging from a beautiful abandoned mansion. I know more about how important taking apart old fireplaces is than I do about the central "ghost" of the story. Sure, there are tiny info dumps here and there about our main ghosts....but those fireplaces had marble! There are no surprises, n The most boring, not scary (not even creepy) horror book I've ever read. It's not even big and I had to force myself through it. There isn't a "plot" so to speak. The whole book is full of tedious details about salvaging from a beautiful abandoned mansion. I know more about how important taking apart old fireplaces is than I do about the central "ghost" of the story. Sure, there are tiny info dumps here and there about our main ghosts....but those fireplaces had marble! There are no surprises, no twists, and we even know the ghost's name pretty much from the start. Unfortunately, as ghosts go these are pretty boring. The living charectors are no prize winners either. Some may say that the house is a charector by itself and that makes it creepy. Well, the author tried but failed horribly at this. The basic details and descriptions of the house are incomplete, only a few rooms are barely described. So...the house is evil cause there's a ghost in it? Big deal. The House on Haunted Hill by Shirley Jackson...now that's a book where the house is a charector! The ending confrontation between the living and the dead is just awful and pointless, and so were the beginning and middle for that matter. Pass on this, you'll thank me later.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Deliciously spooky ghost story! I'm a total chicken when it comes to horror, but I love Cherie's Clockwork Century books, and it's October, so I thought I'd give it a go. Loved Dahlia, the main character, and all her crew. Loved the peek into what it's like salvaging old houses, something that I knew exactly zero about. And absolutely loved the creepiness. It reminded me of a Shirley Jackson story, perfect for the season!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Bea

    Disappointed by this - was hoping for a creepy story but it was mostly boring until the end. The four characters have to stay at an old haunted house while they clear it out/break it down. They're on a strict time schedule and of course there's inclement weather. I found that the story got bogged down in mundane activities where the characters talked at length for what they were going to do. And then it got repeated when they actually did the things. Perhaps this wouldn't have bothered me as muc Disappointed by this - was hoping for a creepy story but it was mostly boring until the end. The four characters have to stay at an old haunted house while they clear it out/break it down. They're on a strict time schedule and of course there's inclement weather. I found that the story got bogged down in mundane activities where the characters talked at length for what they were going to do. And then it got repeated when they actually did the things. Perhaps this wouldn't have bothered me as much if I hadn't just finished a book about showing not telling in your writing, but I had that advice in my head while I was reading it. So once I noticed all the unnecessary descriptions - like sentences devoted to Dahlia removing her socks - it started to drive me bonkers. During moments where tension was building, everything stalled when we had to read about something unnecessary like the breaking down of a cabinet or window. I found myself more concerned that they wouldn't get their work done than I was about whatever the ghost was supposed to be doing to them. About halfway through I was beginning to lost interest in the story's repetition. The characters were at the house for about four days (can't recall exactly) and each day went about in the same way. The ghost activity did increase as the story went on, and I was interested to see how it would conclude. The ending perked things up, but maybe I read too fast because I still don't understand the ghosts' motivation for harassing Dahlia. And even though there were only a few characters, I feel like we didn't really get to know them except for Dahlia. The casual glossing over Bobby's drunk driving was weird. I guess his alcohol dependency gave some depth to his character but ultimately was it really necessary? It did nothing to actually further the plot. Me being nitpicky: I can't stand it when multiple characters have names that start with the same letter or sound the same, and here we have not only a Bobby and a Brad but also a Gabe. I know this review is pretty negative but I still gave it three stars, overall this is between "okay" and "liked it". Not the worst book I ever read but also not that memorable.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    The Toll put the author on my radar and this one, its chronological predecessor, didn’t disappoint either. It’s formulaic as far as haunted mansion tales go, but oh so well done. In Chattanooga, Tennessee (the double letter special of a place name that’s way more fun to say than spell) the last in line of a moneyed dynasty Augusta Withrow has decided to do away with her family’s estate. A deal is made with Chuck Dutton, owner and operator of Music City Salvage, to come and take all that’s left o The Toll put the author on my radar and this one, its chronological predecessor, didn’t disappoint either. It’s formulaic as far as haunted mansion tales go, but oh so well done. In Chattanooga, Tennessee (the double letter special of a place name that’s way more fun to say than spell) the last in line of a moneyed dynasty Augusta Withrow has decided to do away with her family’s estate. A deal is made with Chuck Dutton, owner and operator of Music City Salvage, to come and take all that’s left of any value and then the entire thing is to be razed and lands donated to a good cause. For Chuck the deal is dangerously close to the bone, but he comes through with the money, eagerly anticipating to make bank of the Withrow estate’s treasures. To this end, an intrepid (or at least available and mostly Dutton related) small team of salvagers is sent to stay and work at the estate, led by Chuck’s daughter, a tough serious woman passionate about old places. Chuck was right, the place is well worth it from the monetary perspective, but it’s also infinitely more dangerous. And not just because of a spooky family plot they uncover on the property, the one the owner claims to be nothing but an old prop prank. And not just because of the random quirks of the property itself. In fact, the Withrow mansion even really vacant. It’s haunted, thoroughly and violently, by an angry restless spirit desperate for companionship. And when the storm traps the salvagers inside the mansion over night, it’s game on. So there you have it. A ghost tale done right, a haunted mansion story to thrill and frighten, atmospheric, genuinely eerie, with great descriptions and properly developed characters. A modern southern gothic, one that really ought to be read on a dark and stormy night for maximum effect. Yeah, sure, I wished for more plot originality or surprises, but it worked so well as is, that wishes were rendered meaningless. Sometimes you just gotta go along for the ride as the ride is presented to you and you got to agree, this author is, to continue the metaphor, one awesome driver. Well done. Genre fans, anyone looking for have their frights served up on a literary side would be very pleased with this one. Recommended.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dark Faerie Tales

    Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales Quick & Dirty: A horror movie fan must read! Opening Sentence: “Yeah, send her on back. She has an appointment.” Excerpt: Yes The Review: I love it when a title can mean two different things! The Family Plot by Cherie Priest is my first foray into Priest’s writing. I’ve had her Steampunk series on my TBR pile for years but unfortunately I haven’t been able to get to them yet and I really can’t wait to read them. The Family Plot is a standalone horror novel that is Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales Quick & Dirty: A horror movie fan must read! Opening Sentence: “Yeah, send her on back. She has an appointment.” Excerpt: Yes The Review: I love it when a title can mean two different things! The Family Plot by Cherie Priest is my first foray into Priest’s writing. I’ve had her Steampunk series on my TBR pile for years but unfortunately I haven’t been able to get to them yet and I really can’t wait to read them. The Family Plot is a standalone horror novel that is eerie and quite creepy. If I saw the ghosts as clearly as the characters within this book I would have been a goner. I definitely wouldn’t have stayed overnight after all they all saw most of these ghosts during the day light hours. Dahlia Dutton has been put in charge of salvaging an old home in Tennessee. Her father’s company is relying on this job to keep them from going under so she must make sure she is able to get as much money out of it as possible. The lady who sold them the home, Augusta Withrow, is very secretive about the house. She says it is in disrepair and must be torn down but in reality it is still pretty much in good shape. Then there is the cemetery that Dahlia and her fellow salvagers find. It seems real but Augusta assures them that it is just a Halloween prank. Dahlia is joined by her cousin Bobby, his son Gabe and co-worker Brad for the job. Dahlia’s father wants to make sure the job is done as quickly and cheaply as possible. They all seem to think there is something strange about the house but they are all excited about the exciting items they may find hidden in the house and property. Strange events begin right after they all get to the house. Dahlia gets so enchanted by the house that she can’t hear them calling out to her but she claims she can hear everything from inside that house. Then they all have their own ghostly experiences which all vary in levels from friendly to horrifying. One thing that I really enjoyed was how open all the characters were to seeing ghosts and talking about it. Only Dahlia tried to hide it for a while but when the guys all started talking openly about it she finally caved and said all she had experienced. Dahlia is a recent divorcee so she’s not exactly in the right place when she goes to the house. She tries to be friendly but since Bobby sided with her husband they aren’t exactly on friendly terms. Dahlia is a smart woman. I liked how Dahlia had her issues but she didn’t make those issues conflict with her morals when confronted with a difficult decision. This may or may not be a spoiler. It pertains to the ending so don’t read further if you don’t want to know my thoughts or warning. However you want to take it. The Family Plot does have a bit of an open ending. If you don’t like that then you may not like this novel. It is quite like some of the horror movies dealing with ghosts end so I did come up with what I thought happened after the story was over. I like my stories to be wrapped up but this one wasn’t so bad. I kind of liked it that way. Overall, the atmosphere of the story was pretty creepy. I found the beginning to be a little slow but once stuff started happening the story starting really picking up. I especially found the story very eerie and scary when combined with the force of nature that the group has to endure while being haunted by a scary ghost. I highly recommend this story for fans who love a good ghost story. Notable Scene: “Was the ghost you saw a scary one?” Gabe asked him, letting go of Buddy. The next page fell. “She was scary as shit.” “Why?” “Old dead teenage girls are just as bad as old dead kids, that’s why,” he informed his son, but he didn’t say the rest, about her being covered with mud and blood and the miasma of having done something terrible. Gabe went past the childhood photos and got to the one of Abigail in the yellow dress. He paused there, and asked, “Is that her?” Bobby nodded slowly, then faster. “She’s about the right age, and the right everything. That’s her, but she looked . . . different.” “Different how?” “Dead. Really, really dead.” But Dahlia wasn’t sold. “No, you guys . . . I told you, I saw this girl, looking just like she was alive. This Abigail.” She tapped the photo. “She was even wearing this same dress, and it gave me a heart attack when I opened the album and saw the picture. This is who I saw in the cemetery.” “I thought it wasn’t a cemetery,” Gabe said, half teasing and half wondering, like they all were. It was Dahlia’s turn to sigh. “I never said there weren’t any ghosts. I only said there weren’t any bodies.” FTC Advisory: Tor/Macmillan provided me with a copy of The Family Plot. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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