Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review: The Wedding Gift by Kathleen McKenna

The Wedding Gift

Title: The Wedding Gift
Author: Kathleen McKenna
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: Unspecified
Challenge: Why Buy The Cow? Reading Challenge

My Rating: 2/5

Blurb (from Goodreads):

"It is a spine-electrifying supernatural tale where a huge Southern States mansion contains one of the most terrifying, violent and indeed psychopathic ghosts to haunt any town. It is also a murder mystery - why did Robina Willets apparently kill all five of her young children, and her husband, before stabbing herself to death? And, if you are in the camp of believing that 'justice .... just is not', then this will have you frothing at the mouth with righteous social fury. Add to that the vision of two exceptionally beautiful girls lying on a landing stage in the middle of a secluded lake, sleeping naked in the sun .... .... and then see if you can find any consecutive ten minutes in this book when you don't at least snicker at the heroine Leeann's sly, caustic, sometimes-knowing sometimes 'too stupid to live' commentary."

My Thoughts:

I'd read a few positive reviews for this book and even heard that it was picked up for movie production, so when I saw it available for Free Download at Amazon's Kindle Store, I was excited to finally read it. In this book, the narrator and main character, Leann, tells us her story through her diary entries. We learn that she comes from a small town, Dalton, and is a local beauty queen who has been winning contests from a young age. She comes from a good Christian home and has one sibling, an older brother. Before she was born, their eldest brother died while trespassing on private property owned by the richest family in Dalton, the Willets. Ever since the murder of the Willets family’s elder son, Roger and his children at the hands of his wife, Robina, (who also took her own life in the incident) the locals believe that the house has been haunted. Over the years, the house became the source of many Halloween pranks for teenagers seeking a little excitement. Leann’s brother was one such teenager who decided to break into the house out of curiosity and to showcase his bravery in doing so. However, something went wrong that night and he and his friend, Donny, were found by the police lying in the mansion’s empty pool, having fallen from a great height and sustaining serious injuries. While Donny survives and is eventually released from hospital, Leann’s brother Charlie does not make it. After that night, Donny refuses to talk about what happened, readily going along with the Sheriff’s explanation for the events of that night. However, many years later, when Leann ends up pregnant with the child of George Willets, the murdered Roger Willets’ nephew, and moves into the long abandoned Willets mansion as his wife, Donny feels he needs to speak up and warn her.

Having loved Donny for most of her life while being regarded by him as a little sister, Leann never expected Donny to show up at her house after marriage. Despite marrying George, she doesn’t love him and Donny’s not too happy with his wife either. They soon realise that they actually love each other and Donny is afraid for Leann’s safety in that house. After witnessing a few strange occurrences in the mansion herself, Leann becomes determined to find a way to put an end to all of it by finding out the truth about what happened the night of the Willets’ family massacre. She is lucky to have the unflagging support of her best friend, Jessie, and the love of her life, Donny. Surprisingly, the people one would expect to have supported her most- her husband and parents- are the ones who don’t even believe her. However, another murder occurs in the mansion soon after Leann moves in and she is placed under suspicion. So, with the help of Donny, Jessie and Mark , Leann sets out to clear her name and uncover the secret behind what happened in the mansion many years before.

Firstly, let me just say that I was happy for Leann and Donny when they finally realised that their attraction was mutual and that they’d been foolish to resist each other all those years. I just didn’t like the way they chose to be together- by cheating on their spouses. I thought Donny was an admirable character for being married to a “junkie whore” and sticking with her for so long. It really bothered me how casually George’s drug problem was accepted by Leann and I found myself disgusted with how easily she was able to manipulate him. Leann was a pathetic character who I had very little respect for. She was pretty, dumb, vain, self-centred, manipulative and a heartless gold-digger. There was also this annoying tendency to repeat senseless statements like “get killed dead and then murdered”. While the statement may be unique to the setting, I just felt that it was overused.

While I understand that George was ugly and unremarkable and Leann thought she was too good for him, I don’t think he deserved what he got. I loved Jessie with her snarky personality and great sense of humour. I admired how loyal she was to Leann. Mark was sweet for putting up with Jessie’s bossiness and still adoring her. Leann’s dad was rather funny and a little adorable, even if he was a drunk. Leann’s mum was a little too perfect to believe, with her firm religious faith and her claims that she never hated anyone in her life. I felt that there was not enough of Leann’s mother-in-law in the book except for the beginning, where we only have Leann’s descriptions of her to go on. It’s possible the lack of information is due to the novel being written from Leann’s point of view and Leann not wanting to discuss her mother-in-law, but it seemed to me that Leann had very little to complain about since her mother-in-law seemed to keep out of her life completely after marriage. However, given the role played by her mother-in-law towards the end, I expected her to appear more often throughout the novel. Overall, this was an okay read. The only gripping part was when the mystery was unveiled, but other than that, it made for predictable light reading.


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